“I’m not proud to be gay”

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Disclosure

Out In Jersey Senior Editor Toby Graceeditorial.

I’m not proud to be gay. (sound of mimosa glasses crashing to the floor all over New Jersey.) I’m not proud of having hazel eyes or red hair either (at least I think it’s still red but only Ms. Clairol knows for sure.) I’m Glad I’m gay – really glad – but that’s different from pride. Pride is something resulting from accomplishment – from effort – maybe even from risk taking. Being gay is simply what I am – the way I was put together. I can’t take any credit for it. If the gods had a hand in it – well – they can take pride in their work but I really didn’t have anything to do with it.

To me, gay pride (and I’m using the word “gay” in its old fashioned, totally inclusive sense meaning our entire LGBT community) is about far more important things than a mere variation of birth. It is about people and the love, the struggle, the sacrifice, the creativity and the sharing they have invested in our community over these many long years since the 1960s, when our community was born. To me, gay pride flows from the acceptance and love I was given by straight people such as the families of my first two partners. Even though both of those partners are now long dead, their families still care about me and accept me.

Pride flows from the love and support of Mike, my husband of many years. It flows from the love of my own gay family – my “family of choice,” who are the sunshine and joy of my life. It flows from knowing people such as Kate Barnhart of New Alternatives For Homeless LGBT Youth in New York and Alan Bounville, now walking by himself across the breadth of the United States as a personal demonstration for equality and Laura Pople, who for many years ran the New Jersey Gay & Lesbian Coalition and Steven Goldstein who pretty much single-handedly created the hugely influential Garden State Equality and so many more gay people – people who put their love to work in ways that create real benefit and whose lives are a testimony to the truth of the adage that a few dedicated people can indeed change the world.

Great pride flows from the people whose hard work make Out In Jersey magazine and online LGBT web portal possible. Pride flows from people I don’t know personally but whose lives are dedicated to the struggle for equality and to helping LGBT youth in many parts of the world.

Some of those from whom pride flows are seniors – people who have given much of their lives to working for the changes that have made gay lives so much better in so many places. Some are young people such as the two gay boys in the high school in Maine who stood for and were elected king and queen of the prom or the young man in Newark not long ago who insisted his high school yearbook include a photo of him kissing his boyfriend.

These are the people of whom I’m proud and who make me glad to be gay. Were I to list all the people and all the love and effort from which pride flows, this would be a thick book instead of an editorial. Each of us has our own book listing those who have been examples to us, who have given us love and acceptance – who have given us cause for pride. It is those people, gay and straight, whom we celebrate this month and from whom we derive true pride.

 

Out In Jersey Senior Editor Toby Graceeditorial.

I’m not proud to be gay. (sound of mimosa glasses crashing to the floor all over New Jersey.) I’m not proud of having hazel eyes or red hair either (at least I think it’s still red but only Ms. Clairol knows for sure.) I’m Glad I’m gay – really glad – but that’s different from pride. Pride is something resulting from accomplishment – from effort – maybe even from risk taking. Being gay is simply what I am – the way I was put together. I can’t take any credit for it. If the gods had a hand in it – well – they can take pride in their work but I really didn’t have anything to do with it.