LGBT communities encompass a range of passionate opinions -- and no two people's perspectives are exactly alike. This Pride Month, we wanted to capture the diversity of thought within LGBT communities, in members' own words. So, we reached out to and asked a wide range of bloggers and writers to pen pieces on topics that inspire them. The result is a collection of thought-provoking and heartfelt articles written by people who either identify as LGBT, or are allies to LGBT communities.
When My Teenage Son Came Out to Me
The gay community has always enveloped me, with love, with generosity, with humor and in ways of deeply understanding that no other community of people can or could. I am not gay, yet I have been surrounded by important gay folks my whole life.
Silence Equals Death
Am I proud to have HIV? No. Am I proud to have spoken up in the U.S. Army and chosen to get kicked out? No. Am I proud just simply to be gay? NO. I am proud mainly of being a human being who happens to be a gay, HIV-positive U.S. Army veteran. Yes, my struggles and life story have some significant hardships, but they are nothing to what my predecessors had to go through. These leaders in our GLBT community are who I am VERY proud of.
Pride and the Start of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic
While I met my first boyfriend in 1977, I did not attend a Pride event until I went to meet him in San Francisco in June of 1979 for one of the largest Pride events in our country. I grew up in a small, military-based, Southern city, so there were no "out" people, much less any Pride events. This was the time before the Internet, Out magazine or any "out" celebrities.
A Bloody May for Gay Men in New York City
May 2013 was one of the worst months for attacks on gay males in New York City, based on sexual orientation, in decades. In no fewer than 11 attacks, individuals and couples found themselves on the receiving end of a barrage of verbal attacks, which culminated in frightening fits of rage and physical violence, including Mark Carson's very tragic death by an assassin's bullet.
My Greatest Fears
All of us, no matter how big or small, have fears. They can be the smallest thing to one person, yet to another, something so significant. People say to me, "Patrick, you are so fearless; you must not be afraid of anything." Actually, I am very much so afraid of things. I am open enough with myself, and also with you, to inform you that I am not perfect, nor has my life been "clean."
What About Black LGBT Pride?
Patrick and I had originally discussed doing this project together for Capital Pride. Then I received an email from a Caucasian friend regarding some words we'd exchanged about Black Gay Pride: "I only said what I said because imagine the large uproar if people got together and decided to have a White Gay Pride" -- I was not too happy about his comments. After talking with him, he still didn't know what I meant at all.
So, Patrick and I decided to make another video with people who came to Black Gay Pride, asking them what it really means to them. Hopefully, this would help others, like my friend, to understand that this was not meant to threaten, but to enlighten those who didn't understand why we have a Black Gay Pride. Listening is probably the best thing.
We educate that transgender people are a people who are brave enough to identify for themselves how they feel most comfortable identifying, regardless of sex assignment at birth. But do we, as a society, respect and accept this? No, as we are not trained to do so! As easy as it is to train a child to be Christian, or racist, so can a person be trained from a young age to be phobic and in total opposition to the lifestyles of the LGBTQ. As transgender people choose their lives, an immense portion of the nation's population shows blatant lack of acknowledgement, or negative acknowledgement, of the issue. This is more than a problem for me.
Is There Pride in Being HIV Positive?
During my new video blog episode, below, someone asks me incredulously if I would actually march down the street telling people I was HIV positive.
How Can You Learn Without Asking Offensive Questions?
The restaurant bustles with activity as my date and I sit opposite each other, talking about ourselves and what we do. ... We're chatting jovially, our laughter dicing holes in conversations around us, making people stop and, I'm sure, stare at this interracial, gay couple.
My First Pride
In 2003, I was in the tail end of an eight-year long-term relationship, the first of my life and the longest LTR I have ever had. The writing was on the wall indicating our relationship was on its dying breath. When you spend your entire 20s with someone, it is almost inevitable that the very act of growing up most often leads to growing apart. In 2003, one of my lesbian friends from high school and early college invited me to go to Atlanta Pride with her and her girlfriend. My partner was away in Berlin, on a European vacation paid for by his sugar daddy. When my friends invited me to go to Pride with them, I did not hesitate to say yes.
We're Not in the '80s Anymore, Toto: What Hollywood Can Do About HIV Stigma
Since HIV was discovered in 1981, a magical twister hasn't blown us all away. No farmhouses have fallen onto ruby-soled witches. And no one has mastered the art of traveling by bubble. But in the realm of the HIV epidemic, we are certainly not in Kansas anymore. We've reached the colorful land of Oz. Long gone are the stormy days of gray and gloom. We've seen extraordinary advancements in modern medicine that have allowed for those living with HIV to live full, healthy, and happy lives.
One Small Break From Religion, One Giant Leap Into Pride
I was 25 years old. I was a devout, born-again Catholic who went to charismatic prayer meetings and prayed in tongues.
And I despised myself. To my core.
Every night I prayed, "Please, Jesus, please make me like girls. Please."
I did psychotherapy, hypnosis, aversion shock therapy and group therapy, and was prayed over to have this demon exorcised from me.
Miles to Go: A Few Pride Facts
Finally, at Pride, especially, my friends Lauren and Rob, who were both fierce, proud, queer activists are never far from my thoughts. Lauren would encourage those with privilege to use it to elevate others, and Rob would remind me that when we talk about LGBT rights, we are talking about L,G,B, and seldom T.
"That over one-third of LGBT people have been subjected to violence from an intimate partner is evidence of the brutality we can inflict upon one another, even those whom we claim to love."
You're afraid to leave and afraid to stay. You're afraid of other people's reactions if they find out. Your gay friends will look at you differently and assume that you're a walkover, or weak with possible masochistic traits and unable to stand on your own two feet. They'll snort and claim they would never allow themselves to be in that position. Your family and the world at large will jump to conclusions. You can hear them saying it; they'd really never expected anything else from a same sex relationship; they knew nothing good would come of it. In short, the world will mock and criticise and somehow assume you must have deserved it.
Boundless Connections, Family, Home
I have often thought of relationships that included one person to another as a stifling act of anti-community -- primarily because I had been involved in relationships that were all-consuming, often prioritizing time with that person over time spent on personal projects and community work. It was difficult to make connections that were real and tangible and boundless when in a relationship. And yet, there was real love to share too; I wanted the flexibility to do all of these things -- have substantial and meaningful boundless connections, both romantic and platonic, while still being open to receiving love and offering love in sustainable ways.