Gay Visibility, a Necessity for Change
August 31, 2011 § 9 Comments
This past summer I spent multiple weeks finding my center while teaching and helping staff two camps. I led discussions, taught lessons on leadership, and helped energize our campers with bizarre cheers which I fell in love with three years prior while first attending camp. But at that time there were no out gay staffers at either of my camps. There were no visible signs that gay guys could succeed within a leadership camp or a service based camp just like there are few signs that support gay success in sports even today! While the number of out athletes increases, the majority are still closeted and what does that say to our youth?
Certainly nothing supportive for as a camper I was consistently disappointed with one thing and one thing only – the lack of gay role models. Will, Rosie, and Mark were highly visible figures in my life though I had few personal ties to them. Each was successful in his/her own right as a lawyer, a talkshow host, and as an adult who survived a turbulent childhood. Each I respected as a person, incognizant of sexuality. Yet they were just being them, striving for greatness and attempting to better there lives without any thought of myself. Or perhaps with much more thought than I could ever give them credit for.
Hence why I choose to be open about who I am now. While it’s beneficial for anyone willing to come out, it is essential for those in visible positions or roles of leadership to come out when they’re ready and not shy away from conflict. It is when we are least comfortable that we grow as people and thus can enable others to grow as well. Through being visible components of a successful society we present ourselves and the gay community as people of limitless potential – not people oppressed by the “homophobic hand of God,” a hand which – man not be as homophobic as some may think. But that’s a topic for another time.
So I did it. I was an openly gay camp staffer who met a collection of almost 300 of the greatest teens you could ever find. To each of them I was known first by who I am, a positivity-centric staffer who’s favorite cheer involves shimmying and fist pumping in a circle, and eventually as a caring and funny guy who happens to be gay. While I can not say for certain if I helped change anyone’s opinion of the lgbtq community, I know that had I seen me this past Summer as a camper – I would have known that no minority status would limit my potential within service work or as a leader.