When I was 30 years old I came out and landed head first into the world of being gay. What that meant I wasn't exactly sure, but I was hopeful, fearful and curious to discover what hovered beyond the closet door, beyond the land of high heels and straight dance clubs. I was used to mixing and mingling and networking with the best of them. I didn't think about the differences I would face being part of a new world, a new lifestyle that would later feel more segregated than what I experienced as a biracial child in school. I naturally assumed that things would be the same, different in the sense that girls would flirt with girls, and boys with boys, but everything else the same.
To use a popular phrase, "my bad."
Having been classified as "out late," I would quickly discover how far behind I was in understanding the strange dynamics of the LGBT world. There were many things that didn't make sense to me, like the fact that lesbians were still best friends with all their exes. But the most disconcerting of all was the lines that were drawn by the various groups within the gay community.
There were invitations to happy hours, but they were mostly lesbian-only events. There was always a distinct separation within the room as the high-heeled femmes clustered together while everyone else was happily chatting in their own clique. The boy parties I'd join were no better: There were a few brave lesbians on the scene, but mostly it was one big testosterone fest. And the trans and bisexual communities were virtually nonexistent, but their exclusion has long since been documented with frustration and a cry for being accepted anywhere they can possibly fit in.
Pride events were no better. Event after event boasted further separation between groups, and you were either invited to a girl party or a boy party. Marches for pride exclude whole groups, and those who wanted to participate and support one another have either been discriminated against or ignored completely.
Being exposed to discrimination firsthand within my new community, I have often wondered, "What the hell gives?"
Why can't LGBTs play nice with one another? Why do we draw lines and exclude whole groups within our collective community? And most importantly, why do we demand equality from the rest of the world and fail to demonstrate equality within our own?
Perhaps some of you reading this might flinch at my revealing the great big elephant in the room, but I've never been one to keep elephants invisible. I know these thoughts have crossed your mind too, so let's just talk about it now, shall we?
What is it going to take to accept one another in our own community?
Those of you who have been discriminated against know what I am talking about. You're the one who doesn't fit the stereotype, the one who dares to wear lipstick and curl your hair, the one who realized you were a man trapped in a woman's body, the one who is a macho sports man, or who likes to kiss boys and girls. You're the gay boy who loves to dress in drag, the one who hates labels and wants to be who you are regardless of the social norm, or the one who just wants to see everyone get along regardless of what they look like or believe. You're the daredevil, the misfit, the queer, the transgender person, the asexual, the one who's polyamorous, the bisexual -- yes they do exist. Perhaps you're the straight kid who just wants to mix and mingle with anyone and everyone without being judged.
I speak to you.
I speak to those who demand equality and then look the other way when it comes to cleaning your own backyard. I speak to those who forget what it feels like to be excluded and may be excluding others. I speak to those who just don't give a damn. This is your swift kick in the butt. It's time we played nice with one another.
Being proud of who you are should be a joyous event, and one that is best shared with others. It is a time to unite together and embrace others for their differences, their unique journey in life. Being proud isn't just about declaring what you are but about declaring who you are. And who are you? Are you for equality? And if so, are you demonstrating that in other aspects of your life?
As the founder of an Internet TV network soon to launch, I have watched very carefully the actions of my LGBT community, and I have learned so much. I've partnered with other visionaries to change the dynamics within our community, and together we are offering a new way of interacting with one another. One of the first things on our agenda was to create an all-inclusive pride event where everyone can feel accepted and welcome. This year Long Beach Pride will be our first pride event where we offer such an experience.
The founder of LGB2Network and I are co-hosting a pool party play date on Saturday, May 18, from noon to 6 p.m. at the Hotel Maya in Long Beach, Calif. We took great care to ensure that every community can feel accepted and play nice together. We want the girls, the boys, the trans people and the misfits. We want to see our wonderful rainbow of peers and straight allies mix and mingle and have a good time celebrating pride season and the next step toward achieving equality.
Creating change starts with a seed planted, a willingness to be part of something different. I'd like to see the segregated dynamics of my LGBT community change and evolve, and I'd love to see you right there with me as we shape a whole new world for our future in equality.
It's time we learned how to "Embrace Alternatives" and each other.