• Personal: experiences with family, friends, events that have taken place that have affected you as a person who identifies as LGBT or as an advocate.
• Public: local community (demographic and/or racial/cultural community) mainstream world, media, entertainment, etc. What you have seen as the public view/opinion of the LGBT community overall and regarding your particular racial/cultural community.
• Professional: working environment, organizations, internships, volunteering, etc. When you have worked in a professional environment what have u experienced from the people around you regarding the LGBT community as a member or advocate?
Looking at the personal experiences, the public views/opinions, and the professional area all related to being LGBT or an advocate of LGBT. The personal has an affect on professional life and the public view/opinion has an affect on the personal and professional and the professional has an affect on the personal. They are all intertwined and woven together so why not hear from real people, the real experiences that affect them? If you have a story to tell then share it with the world and hopefully inspire someone else.
We as people who are advocates or members of the LGBT community all have similar and different things in common when it comes to experiences. Whether they are personal experiences with friends, family, or a personal event that occurred in our life. Whether it is the public views & opinions of the LGBT community as a whole or in our specific community we grow up or live our day-to-day life. It can even involve professional experiences with a boss, co-workers, organizations, community members, etc.
All these things are something we encounter as people, but we all have different experiences and this is the time to educate others, express your thoughts in a public & positive domain, and celebrate being who you are as a person. We are all unique as individuals and we all have different experiences, but at the end of the day we are all trying to accomplish the similar end result and that result is to be treated as Equal.
When submitting a video (link) or written story, feel free to be as open and honest as you want. It is possible to even turn a negative experience into a positive one because it may help educate someone to be aware of something in case they encounter it in their life experience, or help someone feel comfortable with expressing their frustrations or story more openly and honestly, and we all want to just celebrate being who we are and accepting ourselves as well as others for who they are, not what they should be. Submit a video link here.
Looking back at my life, I knew I was different from the age of seven. My mother had a sense that something was different as well, because throughout my younger years of 12-18 she would always ask me if I was interested in girls or boys? She never outright asked me if I was gay, but I could see the disappointment in her eyes if I told her the truth so I always lied and said what I knew she wanted to hear.
Growing up in a predominately black neighborhood and surrounding area that makes up the inner city of Detroit, I knew what my family and others thought of gay men, especially black gay men. I knew that they did not like it, thought it was disgusting, always addressing them as a girl and wanting to be a girl because of the feminine qualities. Faggot was the one word that continuously wrapped around my brain, because I would hear it so much with a humorous undertone. People in my life thought it was funny to see a faggot on TV or in a movie and they did not truly realize that I was one of them.
It wasn’t until college that I started to take the time to be content with my sexuality and comfortable in my own skin. My college experience overall was the best thing to happen in my life to grow as a person and understand what I wanted my life to be. I did not just want to be alive, I wanted to live and in order for me to live I had to be happy with my true self no matter what. My true heart and soul had to come to the surface and I had to come out to myself, friends, and family and it was the best decision I ever made.
There are actually two public views that I have experienced throughout my life. I experienced the public views perception of the gay black man Pre College and the public views post college. I say pre and post, because before college I had never stepped into the real world outside of my Detroit inner city bubble, so I had a very close minded and sheltered view point of the world as a black man at the time who knew I was gay but at that time in my life was never going to acknowledge it. Then after college and even during college I received a more holistic view of how the real world public perceived the gay black man to be.
Before college, my perceived public view of the gay black man was the perception of spreading disease like HIV and AIDS, being feminine and flamboyant, and being sexually promiscuous with other men while still being involved with women on the down low. I received this perception from my black America surroundings and this is what the perception of a gay black man was when I grow up and it was something that I did not want my family to know me for. I did not want to disappoint and make them think that I was that gay black man on television and in the movies. That was the view that the public showed of the gay black man and that was not what I wanted to be.
During college and after college that perception became different, based on the more holistic approach I was taught through my college education and looking beyond my own social circle and reading, researching, and investing time into learning about what the whole world really thinks of someone like myself. Throughout my entire childhood I lived and learned based on what I was taught at home when it came to people, race, and culture. However, college gave me a gift and opportunity to know that there are many ways to look at people, race and culture and I saw the different public views of the gay black man.
In the professional world as a gay black man, I have frequently been uncomfortable being open about my sexuality. The double minority label often interferes so much in my thought process in the professional world. With the difficulty just for a black man to receive an appropriate position based on his credentials, to add sexual orientation into the mixture just makes me very guarded with my sexuality in the work place. However, at the same time professional and personal lives regularly intertwine as well with the public views. All of these woven together just make for an intense and interesting experience. It is the person who can be aware of these experiences and manage to educate, express, and celebrate who they are no matter what obstacles come their way that makes for an inspirational story.