“Third-gender people were and are those who were assigned responsibilities for discovering, developing, and managing the frontiers between the seen and unseen, between the known and unknown. Seen from a gay perspective one might say that homosexuality may present itself to a person simply as an instinctual behavioral given. But when it is acknowledged and lovingly embraced, it supports personal power to withstand the dictates of traditional belief when such dictates stand in the way of genuine advance.” Harry Hay
I open with words of Harry Hay to express a truly unique view of being gay and showing in the world around me. These words speak to me today in response to the ongoing discussion due to the recent suicides of at least a half a dozen youths in the past week due to bully in school, and hate expressed through media and politics as well as religious organizations that continue to tell the world that being gay, is amoral, sinful, that we as humans have not the same rights as other human to be loved and love, to serve in the military, ha jokes on them, I came out in the military and many of my friends where gay as well. That because I was considered a sinner in the eyes of the church, I sought a deeper relationship with my Higher Power, that did not include organized religion.
I sought to create a life for myself through relationships, through the bar culture, which lead down some deep dark places, yet I always found a way to live through it, to make the most of what was offered me. I found friends to support me, encourage me, my family was always accepting, even when they where not understanding. My family continued to love me, and offer a place for me, it was myself that withdrew for years, diving into the gay world of boys, bars, booze, etc.
Deep within me I knew my life had deeper purpose, had more meaning that I was giving, more meaning than what showed up on the surface, yet I did not find it until I got sober, I did not find it until I began my inner search of who I was through the outer search of how my relationship with myself and with the Higher Power where interconnected. This journey is an on going, an ever evolving journey of discovery. As Harry Hay states “when acknowledged and lovely embraced…” my gay nature sings, my spirit has a place to shine, to create, to live joyfully! In doing that if move and experience life from a higher place, a level of giving and receiving.
Often say the world is not like it was 30 years ago when I came out, that the world is more conscious, there is community space all over the world for GLBT people to live and to thrive, there is so many opportunities for GLBT people to social, to find assistance, to be of service. Communication is a resource to discovery of must more powerful tools, to grow, to heal, and to live a full happy healthy life.
I had the honor to attend, as a photographer, the Indigo Ball a fund-raiser for the William Way Center held in the Doubletree Hotel in center city Philadelphia, attended by the cream of GLBT society in their best, as well as creatively attended by the Philly Radical Faeries who offered and supported the fun aspect of being yourself, of honoring the diversity of the GLBT community. The room was decorated with a Madi Gras theme of huge vases of Purple, green and gold feathers, mask, colorful Madi Gras beads laid on the tables to be worn and shared. Appetizers where pass around the room while the party goers viewed the silent auction selections, sipping on open bar liquor, for the first hour or so. Through out the rest of the evening food was to be found scattered about the Ormandy Ball Room, and entrance hall, in which could be found a chef slicing roast beef, on the other wall was a chef, offer Salmon that was baked with seasoned breaded herbs, in the main room two chefs, sautéed shrimp in a creamy garlic sauce served with angel hair pasta, all this was just delicious… Music was DJ ed by Philly’s own Robert Drake, at a sound and pace that was conversational, and danceable. Throughout the evening I was greeted by friends, walked around the room looking for candid moments to capture, yet many wanted to pose, so pose on they did.
Midway through the evening Chris Bartlett the William Way GLBT Center’s new Executive Director spoke to the crowd, thanking them all for their being there this evening, as well as the mission of the Indigo Ball to raise money for the Gay Way center to become one of the leading spaces in the city to offer safe space to offer the community opportunities to do their work, to reach to the community. Chris wished to assure the community that what was happening to the youth today was not acceptable, that what is happening with transgender people was not acceptable, that all GLBT people have a home at the William Way center. When the Mayor of Philadelphia Mayor Nutter arrived a little while later, he addressed the same issues, was grateful to be at this function, and invited us all to the Rainbow Flag raising ceremony which was to be held on Wednesday, to flag is to celebrate GLBT Month and to fly all month-long along side of the American flag on the north side of city hall. This gesture was greeted by great waves of applause and cheers.
This is one of the events the flag raising was another of those that did not happen 30 years ago, 10 years, ago, it is the first time a Rainbow Flag to honor GLBT Month has ever hung outside of a city building, and as far as we know the first time anywhere in the country!
To embrace who we are, to see the larger communities reaching out, and supporting all GLBT people is a ray of hope for the gay youth, that there is acceptance, that there are brothers and sister of choice, of the heart my friend likes to say, to reach out to, they, we are here for each other, if we can not embrace our own can we embrace?
Growth Question: What is the language you use when speaking about GLBT people?
I am Love, Jeff
I wish to offer these site as a well to the GLBT youth: first one is Dan Savages It Gets Better video as well as all the other beautiful people who have step up and out to share their experiences.
The Trevor Project : an organization started by a teenager to address GLBT issues: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
In Philadelphia: The Attic Youth program: http://www.atticyouthcenter.org/