Oh, the times they are a changin’…

With this being National LGBTQ History Month, I also think it is important to celebrate the present. Our city, Cleveland, has had a few victories this year that definitely need celebrating. While we still have a fight ahead of us, acknowledging where we have made advances gives us strength to fight on. Share with me in this and know that each of you are a part of this.

Say what you want, but gay bars have been the cornerstones of LGBTQ culture for a very long time. They have been sanctuary, front lines of rebellion, keystones to neighborhoods, and starts of our “out lives”. As we move forward through our history, we are seeing a decline in those establishments.

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Leather Stallion Saloon Cleveland, OH

In the 1960s, as New York’s gay community started coming into its own, we needed a place where we could come together without fear of reprisals. Until that point, there were laws in place, in most of the country that gay men could not be served in public. All it took was for a bartender to assume you were gay for them to not serve you and even have you arrested. Sit to close to another guy, busted. Touch a man that looked intimate, cops showed up and probably smashed your head. Even meeting in public places was dangerous. Cruisy areas were heavily patrolled and regular arrests were made. But the LGBTQ community had an unlikely ally, the Mob.

New York had a liquor law that barred what they called disorderly conduct on premises, this was used to make sure that gay men didn’t dance together in bars or even be romantic with one another. The Mob saw this as a perfect business opportunity. The Genovese family was the “Dons” of Manhattan’s West side bar scene, which included the Village, where the LGBTQ community was getting its start. “Fat Tony” a.k.a Tony Lauria bought the Stonewall Inn in 1966 and made the first gay bar. It was run very cheaply; no running water, no sanitation for dishes, bathrooms not cleaned or maintained, and no fire exit. It was, however, a place we could go freely and be who we were without fear of being arrested. It also gave a safe place, as long as it was open, to runaways and LGBTQ homeless.

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Stonewall Inn New York

After the events at Stonewall, more gay bars started popping up in cities all over the country. As years progressed, they weren’t just limited to larger progressive cities. This gay more rural LGBTQ people opportunities to meet others like themselves to alleviate the feeling of being alone, even if it was only once every month or so. We knew we had a place to go where we felt like we belonged and could meet others. For me I remember it being more like a community center with a bar. TVs showed LGBTQ movies, TV Shows, and videos. Events were held each month and clubs like Leather Clubs or Pride Committees. It was the place you could come and see people you didn’t get to see daily and just be yourself. The Internet hadn’t really come to handheld devices yet, so this was our meeting place.

Over the years, LGBTQ bars in Cleveland have come into existence, thrived, and closed often. Leaving the landscape shaped by their being. In the 1970s there were as much as two-dozen gay bars, according to Cleveland.com. Their main areas were the Warehouse district and a small stretch of St Claire. From then until the mid 80s, they scene was thriving and exciting Many bars held specialty balls and events and the parties were wild. U4ia and Bounce were some of the bigger nightclubs and more popular for drag shows, both have now closed. A Man’s World, Leather Stallion Saloon, and Cocktails tended to be more neighborhood styles bars with Man’s World and Stallion catering to the leather crowds. At present there are roughly six LGBTQ bars left in Cleveland; Leather Stallion, Twist, Cocktails, The Hawk, Vibe, and the newest Shade. Leather Stallion frequently holds neighborhood events and caters to its original leather clientele. While Twist and Cocktails have smaller stages, they do host drag events.

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Twist Social Club Lakewood OH

As the 90s moved into 2000s, we saw computer gets smaller and cell phones move to smart phones. Apps were being developed that let us meet people without having to leave our homes. This was the start of the decline of the gay bar scene. Craigslist also gave freedom for random sexual encounters. With all of these changes, we saw that the bar scene slowly started falling away as the cornerstones they once were. Society, as a whole, has shifted as well. It is now much more accepted to be LGBTQ than it was in the 1960s, so the need for the sanctuaries has seemed to have fallen away. Many more conventional bars are more accepting of all sexual orientations, so niche bars are less frequented.

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The Park Roanoke, Virginia

Throughout our history we have celebrated our differences. We have reveled in our promiscuous sex life and wanted our own safe place to be as we are. With the shouts of “We’re here, We’re Queer, get used to it,” we expected others to take us at what we were. History progressed and we slowly started fighting for our right to marry, have a family and be like everyone else. Our radical sides fell away and we wanted to go back into the closet, so to speak. We fought against heterosexuals for so long and now we were fighting to be like them. Our acquiescence is what has caused a central core of our community to be left behind. I am not saying that it right or wrong, it just is.

I think it is important to remember where our foundations lie and we must accept that gay bars were a vital part of that foundation. Our community has changed, but it is still the gay bars that were where our fight began. Let us remember them and if they still exist near you, frequent them to show that you remember. We may need them again, one day.

 

 

It’s my coming out party and I’ll be meh if I want to…

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Many people have coming out stories that are filled with horror to rival the best Hollywood scream fest. Others still, seem to have blissful parties surrounded by beautiful bodies waiting to take them into the fold for a life of carnal lust and endless disco dramas. Me, you ask? Well mine was simply less glorious.

From a young age I simply knew that I was different. I didn’t have a means to put my finger on it, but still it was there in the back of my mind. Like most young men, I did sneak into my father’s cleverly hidden porn stash, due to the curiosity of my young hormones. The strange part for me was that I always seem to be drawn more to the images of the men in the magazine. If was something like a Playboy, I simply was not interested. I needed to see the male flesh. I soon learned the term for that was “QUEER” or “FAGGOT.” I knew they were different and different meant you were apt to get made fun of by your peers. So, I did what every other closeted queer kid did, I hid those feelings while trying to steal furtive glances at the boys in the locker rooms

My youth was spent trying to hide what I was and pretend to follow a path I thought my parents wanted for me. I knew my father was not keen on anyone or anything that was vastly different from his way of thinking. It was hard enough being his son watching him react with my friends in boy scouts. I always felt like I was his disappointment and this didn’t help my self esteem one bit. Foolishly, I fumbled around and dated a few girls in high school and tried to be the boyfriend I heard other guys talking about in the halls before and after classes. That worked out as well as you can imagine.

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It wasn’t until I went to college that I finally said that I would like my live a little more close to what I knew that I wanted. So what did I do? I joined a fraternity. There, I did meet a few guys who had same thoughts and desires as myself. It gave me a chance to experiment to see what I had been missing, all while still mostly hiding. Finally in about 1994 or 95, I was thrust out into the open and the veil I hid behind was ripped off like a Band-Aid.  The guy I had been fooling around with decided he wanted more and that it would be a great idea to out me to the girl I had also been dating. I decided to preempt him and tell her first. As it turned out she too had been keeping to herself a desire for the same sex. Basically, his grand schemes fizzled out more akin to Wile E Coyote.

This didn’t abate my fears much as next I had to come out to my circle of friends. I was in terror of how that would happen. My circle of friends was small as it was and primarily focused around my fraternity. The best way, in mind, to do it was one night while we had all went out to a bar near the college we attended. After becoming drunk on apple pie shots, Jack Daniels, and tequila I broke down into tears and decided to tell everyone at the table. I told them how much I knew they were going to hate me and how much I was sorry for betraying them. They all looked at me smiled and said it was not a big deal. One even joked that maybe I could help him learn to dance a bit better. Yay for the stereotypes!! But they were accepting; all the same, more than I thought would happen.

As they say, you never stop coming out. I returned home in 95 with my newfound freedom and started going to a gay bar about 45 minutes from my house. I was living with my parents at the time, so my every weekend out was starting to draw a notice. I decided that it I would also have to come out to my mother. I went to visit her on her lunch break to have lunch with her and share my dark secret. While we were eating Campbell’s soup and sandwiches, I dropped the bomb on her. She looked me dead in the eye and said “Its about damned time you finally tell me. I have known since you were a kid dressing up in my gowns, shoes, and singing into a hair brush.” I was the one left in shock and dismay. How did she manage to know the one thing I was unsure of and hid from everyone? Her response was, “A mother knows.”

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I think it was after that I dealt more with issues from people than when I came out. That could also be from growing up in a small southern town. The first time I moved in with the guy I was dating then, we moved to a small town not far from my house to rent an apartment. The complex we rented from wasn’t especially gay friendly. We inquired about a single apartment and were met with resistance because they couldn’t understand how two men only wanted one bedroom. So invariably we ended up with a two bedroom that we outfitted as both were occupied, for keeping up appearances. We kept an immaculate apartment, but upon leaving we were told we couldn’t have our security deposit back, due to the nature of the apartment’s condition.

We moved to North Carolina afterwards because that where he wanted to be. While living there I worked with Spencer Gifts as a manager, up until he died from complications due to HIV in 2000. Then I transferred back to my hometown due to not really knowing anyone in North Carolina. I transferred with Spencer’s to a store there and immediately was entrenched with coworkers who already knew I was gay and not happy about it. They made it purely inhospitable for me and told the District Manager that I was being intolerant and belligerent. It ended up I was fired based on these accusations and when I confronter the Human Resources Department about it, their response was they agreed that I was being harassed but giving me back my job would create more issues than not and since Virginia, in early 2000, had no protection status, I was left unemployed.

As I said, my coming out was more of a fizzle than a feud. I wasn’t disowned, at the time, or kicked out of the house. My friends still cared for me and do to this very day. My rough patches of being Gay has come much later in life. Losing a job due to being gay, dealing with people’s inadequacies of being able to deal with someone who is different. But nothing to the degree that many have witnessed or endured, I am fortunate in what I have experienced. I have friends with the horror stories you hear about. I have witnessed teenage kids kicked out of their house and left to their own devices to survive. You can even read the statistics of the many youth that still opt for suicide. Rest assured when I tell you that it does get better. Know yourself and be yourself, fully. Learn to love who you are and what you can contribute. Your story of survival could be the inspiration someone else needs to survive. Know you have people who will listen and help. My contact information is included in my blog, use it if you need to vent. There are people there for you.

 

Closets are for clothes

National Coming Out Day is next Thursday. Whether you are for or against coming out, it is a huge deal that takes a lot of bravery to do. Here are just a few fun facts from UselessDaily.com

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  1. Founded in 1988, in the feminist and gay liberation spirit of the personal being political, the emphasis is that the most basic form of activism is coming out to family, friends and colleagues, and living life as an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person.
  2. The foundational belief is that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance, and that once people know that they have loved ones who are lesbian or gay, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views.
  3. In the LGBT community, “coming out” means the voluntary self-disclosure of one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  4. NCOD was founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary. Eichberg, who died in 1995 of complications from AIDS, was a psychologist from New Mexico and founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience.
  5. O’Leary was an openly lesbian political leader and long-time activist from New York, and was at the time the head of the National Gay Rights Advocates in Los Angeles.
  6. The date of October 11 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
  7. Initially administered from the West Hollywood offices of the National Gay Rights Advocates, the first NCOD received participation from eighteen states, garnering national media coverage.
  8. In its second year NCOD headquarters moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and participation grew to 21 states.
  9. After a media push in 1990 NCOD was observed in all 50 states and seven other countries.
  10. Participation continued to grow and in 1990 NCOD merged their efforts with the Human Rights Campaign.
  11. National Coming Out Day is observed annually to celebrate coming out and to raise awareness of the LGBT community and civil rights movement.
  12. The first decades of observances were marked by private and public people coming out, often in the media, to raise awareness and let the mainstream know that everyone knows at least one person who is lesbian or gay.
  13. In more recent years, when coming out as a lesbian or gay man is now far less risky in most Western countries, the day is more of a holiday. Participants often wear pride symbols such as pink triangles and rainbow flags.
  14. National Coming Out Day is also observed in Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  15. In the United States, the Human Rights Campaign sponsors NCOD events under the auspices of their National Coming Out Project, offering resources to LGBT individuals, couples, parents and children, as well as straight friends and relatives, to promote awareness of LGBT families living honest and open lives.
  16. This year (2016) Coming Out Day has its 28th anniversary.
  17. In the past, spokespeople for NCOD include Betty DeGeneres (Ellen DeGeneres’ mother), Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sally Field, Lady Gaga, Whoopi Goldberg, Anne Hathaway, Cyndi Lauper, Don Lemon, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato, Mo’Nique, Pink, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron, Stanley Tucci, and Lana Wachowski.

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Source: https://www.uselessdaily.com/world/national-coming-out-day-trivia-17-facts-you-werent-aware-of-about-this-awareness-day/#ixzz5OGlnLDDp

Under Creative Commons License: Attribution  Follow us: @UselessDaily on Twitter

 

Flaming River Con

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This past Saturday was the second annual Flaming River Con and was held in Rocky River at the West Shore Unitarian Universalists Church. I brought my best friends who happen to be a straight married couple and we decided to check it out. I had been excited for going since they announced the event early in summer. As it got closer I was hopeful for what the turn out would be like. We arrived just after 12:30 and the parking lot was packed and my excitement was escalated. We are making circles in the parking lot, skillfully looking for a spot. All I can see is my fellow LGBTQ community showing up, many of which in costumes.

Suddenly, I am filled with the emotions of the first time going to an amusement park. I am pretty low key when it comes to comic cons. I am not comfortable about dressing up as my heroes, so I am usually limited to wearing a t-shirt of anyone of my favorite villains or heroes. Today I decided to wear a blue cargo kilt and a grey Batman shirt, sort of as a mock throw back to the original Batman colors. I look around and I see the levels of peoples cosplay and I am just struck by the talent and creativity.

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As we walked in we were greeted by the Welcoming table. They offer information about the event and its roots. Talk about the raffles and what to expect. Thankfully, my friends paid attention because I was more like a kid in a candy store. My gaze feasting from one sight to another, trying to see it all. We purchase our tote bags, make our donations and I am still lost in all the people around me. As we move into the building we pass other tables for groups, rooms for all the panel discussions, and finally we enter what can only be described as geek heaven, the vendor floor.

Now many of us have been to comic cons before, the vendor floor is by large the biggest space at them and it’s where we, as collectors, find the rare statues or figures we have been searching for, for what seems our entire lives. Here it was different, it was local artists showcasing their talents and passions for the community. This is the type of vendor floor that makes me happy. If you ask me what my favorite booth was the Adopt A Monster booth by C. M. Manfredi’s Emporium of Wonders . Her handmade creatures were amazing and I think I fell in love with everyone of them. Please check out her link and support her. There were handmade Pride stained glass, artists of every flavor, and even locally made cosplay gear. Taranis Works  was on site to suit your leather goods needs. From pride colored spiked bracelets, leather eye patches, full arm guards, and leather belt bags. Check out his site for anything you may need made to your specifications.

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Many may ask why there is a need for an LGBTQ event such as this and my response is the need is important for us to have a place where we can feel at ease celebrating who we are and what we love. Sure we can do this at the larger Cons, but speaking to LGBTQ representation in comic/sci-fi/horror culture would be unheard of. Here we had Sine Grace signing autographs and discussing his role in making Iceman a representative of the LGBTQ community. These are the stepping stones for young LGBTQ youth to have role models and sources of strength and self worth. Comic books shape us as children and oftentimes they do not represent all of society. This even allows that to happen and to celebrate it.

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Thank you Flaming River Arts for putting on this event and seeing the importance for it to happen. Thank you to each person who was in attendance for it, you are the ones that make this a success. I look forward to next year and how much more it grows. It is the only place where we can be our true LGBTQ geek selves. So make sure we continue to offer your support to them. Thank you again to Flaming River Con.

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#Kiltlife

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Often, when I am out, I am asked why do I wear a kilt. It’s usually combined with are you Irish or Scottish. On occasion I get a rude comment or two. A lot of just looks, but it’s usually the why? The simple answer is that I like them, but it starts a deeper question as to when did I decide that it was something that I wanted to wear. I have never really “fit in” with fashion. Often times I dress how I like with only a little nod to any form of fashion. I also don’t think that people should be pigeonholed into a specific current fashion trend.

Pants weren’t accepted by most of the world until about 1701 and even by then there were French style breeches as opposed to trousers. And modern versions of trousers weren’t set until about the 1800s. Until the first onset, most of the world of men’s fashion was a caftan style or tunic style apparel. Native American were wearing breechclouts, which were pieces of fabric passed between the legs and held up by a belt. Roman and Greeks soldiers thought it barbaric and effeminate to wear pants. This Roman didn’t change their mindset until the Teutons conquered them and more exploration into the northern regions. Here it was limited, primarily, to the cavalry. Hitherto, this has not effect as to why I currently wear a kilt, but it is a history to show that men didn’t always wear bifurcated garments.

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As I said earlier, I have always been different in my mode of dress. I wore what I liked and didn’t pay a lot of heed to man fashion trends. In the 80s I did follow the neon fashion statements and the jelly bracelet fad. But I also wore a floor length black denim duster through most of high school with a bit of an early gothic edge. Definitely different than the normal kids in our school. I grew up in a very small rural town and our school TOTAL was 500 people. When I graduated, it was about 45 people. So, as you can see, very small. Standing out means you stood out. Seeing Boy George blurring gender lines by wearing skirts and dresses fascinated me. We had person in our school, Brian Cales that mimicked Boy George’s dress style. I never had the nerve for it. I really wasn’t witness to anything like that until after I came out and started going to the local gay bay. They guy I was dating at the time, Shawn Moomau, had a friend whose name was Mike and he always wore kilts to the bar. He was a somewhat club kid of the time. I loved his kilt and wanted one. The Internet was much smaller then and when I researched kilts I was met with the sheer expense of them. So my hopes were dashed. Today we have companies like Kilted Bros , who make it a bit more affordable to get a quality product.

I personally feel that men should branch out and try a kilt, even if only occasionally. When you are kilted up for special events, the image cannot be beat. Even casually, it can be awesome. It’s about the confidence you carry while wearing it. I have my favorites out of all of my kilts; my gotos and I have some I wear out of comfort. The most difficult for me, personally, are the cargo style kilts. And there difficulty only comes from the fabric being the heavier canvas; they are prone to creasing if the pleats aren’t perfectly situated. That it seems, is a huge struggle for me. Basically, I hate ironing pleats it is torture. I don’t seem to have that issue when I wear my wool or acrylic tartans. That aside, I still love wearing them. The freedom of movement is incredible. Pants or jeans never seem to fit 100% perfect, you always seem to get that binding pinch at some point. Go for a pair more form fitting and you end up with them riding up on you. Not comfortable, to say the least. Give me a kilt any day, All day long it’s comfortable, I don’t have to worry about feeling overly warm. Sitting for a long time, my only fear is how my pleats look.

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It takes confidence to be different than the pack, so do not think a man shouldn’t wear a kilt. Anyone that tells you that is out of his or her mind. It’s not about being Scottish/Irish, its not about wanting to wear skirts, its about being comfortable and being your true authentic self. Many think they can’t afford a kilt, well  Kilted Bros sells a more affordable kilt called a RRRip kilt. It is designed as a runner or hikers kilt, or to be used as a quick cover up for the pool and etc. Very lightweight and breathable. But, if you want to try a kilt without having to put a lot of money into one, this is the way to go. They can still be dressed up the same as other kilts, sporran, belt, shoes, shirt, and tie or just a t-shirt and barefoot around the house. It’s a PERFECT to see how you feel about it and to get comfortable with it.

And I get it, you like wearing a kilt. You wear them out in public, to the bar, and various events, but it is hard to wear them to work. Not all places are accepting of being able to wear one. This is because they are different and not widely accepted as acceptable forms of dress for men. I have been lucky to work for places that were accepting of me wearing them. With my current job, I usually wear them on Fridays and maybe one other day of the week. At a previous job, I wore them almost every day. In general, most people are pretty accepting of seeing me in one. I have had more people genuinely interested and giving compliments than the few random people who are negative about it.

The more you wear a kilt and it becomes a part of  your routine, they become you. Rude comments won’t bother you anymore, you will notice the looks of approval you get from men and women. As it becomes a natural thing for you, broaching the subject at your place of work becomes easier, as well.  The point is, you can’t know if you like something unless you try it. Be different, be ahead of the pack and not stuck in the middle. Get out and go talk to the guys at Kilted Bros. and try one on.

 

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Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

Silent Masses

A Gallup Poll in 2017 showed that 4.5% of Americans verbally identified as being LGBTQ. It’s a staggering statistic to imagine. Four out of every 100 hundred people are LGBTQ. I was at an event at work recent and we had about 170 people in attendance. There were 10 LGBTQ that I was personally aware of, in the crowd. That was ten of us that we openly identify as LGBTQ, however, to those around us. I officially came out in June of 1996 and ironically a similar poll had results of being about 3%.

I look at this poll with its number and am left conflicted. How can it be in this our era of what should be LGBTQ awakening and acceptance? How is it we know that there are more of us out there than this poll shows? Like the curious prairie dog popping his head out his den long enough to survey for predators, I am quickly reminded as to why. Cleveland, the place I now call home, is home to 17% of the transgender deaths in the United States. We live in a county where the bodies of government we elected is openly and actively pursuing means of changing legislature about LGBTQ rights. But that isn’t the point of this post.

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Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

In 2017 5.1% of women openly identified as being LGBTQ, which is up from 3.5% women identifying in 2012, a of that gain was in the years of 2016 and 2017 Men on the other hand are 3.9%, which is up from 3.4% in 2012. And of course millennials are the largest group where the percentage of increase has happened. Again, the question is why isn’t the percentage reported higher. These kind of polls are always slightly jaded in the fact that it asks you if you identify as LGBTQ. Many people still have the built in stigma of answering truthfully to this question. Fear of some repercussion makes them question how to answer honestly. For me, I feel it falls back to the pack mentality that many animals have, strength in numbers. Being in your close and tightly knit circles offers freedom to be who you are without that fear. Answering a poll, on your own, can be a bit more daunting.

We live in a world where we, as LGBTQ, have quickly learned that it is better to keep quiet about our sexuality and violence against us, because we are seen as less than human. A 2007 Department of Justice Poll states that 17% of the “reported” hate crimes were because of sexual orientation. Many of us still live in cities, counties, or states that offer us no protection based on our orientation. That leaves us nowhere to turn to speak out when violence is acted upon us. It becomes harder for men to report sexual violence, due to stigma that many men harbor. For the transgender community, it can open up much more emotional issues. 26% of gay men, 44% of lesbians, 37% of bisexual men, and 61% of bisexual women experience rape or physical violence by an intimate partner. 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, this number raises even more based on people of color. These stats come from the Human Rights Campaign.

The annual Pride Parade is replaced with a Resist March as members of the LGBT community protest President Donald Trump in West Hollywood, California
The annual Pride Parade is replaced with a Resist March as members of the LGBT community protest President Donald Trump in West Hollywood, California, U.S. June 11, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

There are still states that do not offer other rights to the LGBTQ and it was until 2015 that many hospital accepted spousal rights for LGBTQ marriages. I remember when my partner died in 2003, the paramedics that came referred to me as a “her” because I was distraught at holding my lover in my arms as he died. Their reports never included partner or lover when they were writing down what happened. I wasn’t even told the hospital he was taken to because I couldn’t possibly be anyone that was of importance to him since I was just some emotional gay man. In 2003, there were NO protections of any kind. When I arrived at the hospital they wouldn’t update me on anything. After sitting there for almost three hours, a nurse felt sorry for me and quietly said she would show me, if I kept quiet about it since it was against hospital policy to let non-family members to see the body. It was embarrassing to have to endure when your loved one is somewhere and you cannot be with them. No one should have to go through that.

This is only a fraction of what we have to endure and is partly why reporting crimes and filling out surveys are so hard for us to get through. Personally, to me, this is why these polls always seem to show we are only at a 4% of the population. Some of that is our own fault. It is beyond the time for us to stand up together and be counted. We are comfortable in our smaller groups, but it is time to lay those to the side and join the larger group and be safe in those larger numbers. Take those surveys with honesty and confidence. If every one of us that are LGBTQ made ourselves known, we would no longer be considered the “certain minority”. People would realize that they already know someone, close to them, that is LGBTQ and what kind of an impact we have on the world. Look at recent history of when North Carolina passed the HB2 ordinance that essentially told transgender people to use the restroom that aligned with their sex at birth. The LGBTQ community stood up against it and refused to patron the county where it happened, The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors contacted North Carolina and stated that their county employees were barred from visiting the state for county business. Collegiate and professional sports teams pulled their venues from North Carolina. Even Hulu cancelled filming a TV series there, based on this ordinance. . With a sum total of $3/76 billion not going to North Carolina, HB2 was repealed and replaced.

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Do our numbers truly reflect what these polls say? Look at Pride events to see these numbers are obviously misrepresented. It is left to use to change these perceptions. Unlike people of color, it is easier for us to hide who we are and we often times do that out of protection to ourselves. We feel safe in our own communities, but it is time to realize that the community at large is also our community and it is here where we need to fight for our safety. To do this we must come out and we must be recognized. We have the power, as we have seen in our boycotts, to shape this country and its businesses, but we have to come together to do that. How will you shape the change?