Individuality + Acceptance + Community + Self-Love = Pride
I am a 55 year old gay man living in San Francisco. This will be my thirty-seventh year of openly living as a gay man. I came out in Boston in the summer of 1980. It is astounding to me where we have come in such a relatively short time — in ten weeks, I will be legally marrying an amazing man, surrounded by lots of love with my family and friends. This is something I never even considered when I was younger. When I look at my guest list, ranging from my 97 year old grandmother all the way down to my eight month old niece, I’m so very proud of all the pioneers who paved this path that I am allowed to follow. I have seen the rise of our community leaders such as Harvey Milk, the devastation of the AIDS epidemic and my personal loss of so many dear friends who helped me to navigate those early years in Boston and New York. My older gay male and gay female friends showed me how to stand proud, and how to explore who I am without judgement. This strength and confidence has allowed me to overcome so many challenges in my life. I might not be dancing on a float or marching in parades any longer, but it is my goal to continue to live my life openly, with honesty and pride in my community. It’s my responsibility to do my part in passing on a legacy of self-love to a younger generation whether they identify as gay, straight, trans, bisexual or more importantly for the future, reject the entire idea of labels.
Recently, Broadway actor Ben Platt gave an amazing speech while accepting his award for Best Actor in the thought provoking, emotional musical Dear Evan Hansen. This message would have been incredibly empowering to me as a young man in the 1970’s:
“Don’t waste time trying to be like anybody but yourself, because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”