Greetings Superheroes and Happy National Honor Our LGBT+ Elders Day! National Honor Our LGBT+ Elders Day was created to honor all the individuals who’ve worked hard to make the world better for the current and future generations of LGBT+ individuals. The day was created by the LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care on May 16th, 2015 as an effort to honor those who worked diligently over the many decades to advocate for LGBT+ legislation and rights. It was specifically intended to be before Pride Month (June) so more recognition could be given to those who led the way. In honor of this day, I’d like to take time to recognize one of the movements that sparked Pride Month; along with the individuals that helped me directly as an openly gay woman. The first one goes back to the Stonewall Riots in 1969, which turned into celebrations and later formed what is known as Pride celebrations. I was fortunate in 2013 to visit the national landmark Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village area of New York City with one of the many individuals that helped me “come out”, and visited again in 2015. Seeing this iconic landmark was very symbolic for me, as this location and individuals there were the ones that sparked the movement and contributed to the freedoms I have as an openly gay woman.
Next are the individuals that have directly impacted my life. These individuals include the friends who are part of the LGBT+ community, and allies who made the effort to show me it was safe, and I am loved for being gay. When I was in graduate school, I realized I needed to come to terms with my sexual identity. I was determined to do so before I graduated and started my career. That wouldn’t have been possible without those individuals. They were the ones who took me to gay clubs so I could see how it truly felt to have fun, and not have to worry about being judged for being attracted to women. The ones I met in my graduate school’s gay straight alliance. The ones who were right there when I told them I was going to tell my mom I’m gay. I still can’t forget the messages of support I received when I asked them for advice as I decided over Thanksgiving break to tell my mom. Then coming back to celebrate that I told my mom!
The photo below is of me and the friend that I refer to as my GBB (Gay Big Bro). For the record, I do have an awesome biological brother who loves and accepts my sexuality. The wisdom and guidance I learned from Tim is one like a brother, and so that is why I refer to him as such. Tim is also an openly gay man, and the bond we have definitely resembles that of siblings. He is an elder in my eyes as he helped pave the way for me directly to come out and embrace my identity. His support helped me become proud of who I am, and inspired me to help pave the way as well through the work I do at my college.
Tim (Left) & Allison (Right)
There are also the individuals who joined my life after graduation and became my community once I moved to a very LGBT+ friendly city. Several months before I moved to Orlando, I was encouraged and auditioned for the Orlando Gay Chorus . I’ve now been an active singing member for 5 years. Through this organization I learned the value of LGBTA+ choruses, met several of the individuals who were courageous to start this organization in 1990, and met the friends that I can’t imagine my life without. I was with them during the Pulse tragedies, and still remember what one of the founders said to me when it happened. He said “I survived the AIDS outbreak and I will survive this”. The chorus is full of members from all generations and identities. I look up to those individuals, as many have worked tirelessly to make life better for myself and the younger generations. It’s truly an honor to stand on stage with all of them as we are able to share our talents and love for the Central Florida community through song.
If you are looking for a way to honor the LGBT+ Elders in your community visit the LGBT Elders Day Website . To all of those who we honor today, I personally would like to say thank you! Thank you for taking the risk to be fearless and brave to stand for our rights! Without all of you, many of us (myself included) would not be so bold as to be open about our identity and embrace it.
Keep saving the day my friends!
Photo credits: Allison J. Walker
https://www.lgbteldersday.org/ways-to-celebrate/ , https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/28/us/1969-stonewall-riots-history/index.html
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