From Pariah to Pride

Wow, 2018 was quite the transformative year for me, with a sequence of metamorphosis instigated by being recognized as one of 50 “OUT” LGBTQ leaders by the South Florida Gay News.

This honor touched me profoundly and prompted a deeper dive than I’d previously explored, into the history of “gay pride”.  The more I learned about the fiercely brave women and men activists who risked their lives and paved the way for today’s “gay outness” the stronger my inner activist became. More than ever before I was moved to speak up, act up and walk in the footsteps of my activist ancestors, literally and figuratively. As philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist George Santayana said, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Inspired by and paying homage to those who organized the first “Gay Liberation March” (considered the precursor to today’s Gay Pride Parades) I instigated creating a “float” to highlight SFGN Out 50 Honorees for the Pride Parade of the Palm Beaches, taking my outness to the streets instead of being “on the sidelines” as in previous years. Marching, raising a collective voice with fella SFGN Out 50 honorees changed me at my core and fanned my activist flame.

At times of personal shifts and change, I often call on the Ghanaian Sankofa symbol, a mythical bird with feet firmly planted forward and its head turned backwards. The Akan believe, as do I, that wisdom in learning from the past ensures a strong future and that there must be movement forward as time passes.

While persecution and discrimination for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer still exist locally and around the world, the South Florida Gay News “Out 50” highlights our strength in our diversity and reminds us that our individual and collective actions do make a difference in today’s Equality for All movement.

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