Rick Warren, author of the best selling novel The Purpose Driven Life was once asked what he wanted his tombstone to say when he died, his response was "At least I tried". I sat in church and pondered those words as my pastor told this story, and I came to the conclusion that after my death if I'm remembered for anything I would like to be remembered as a person who tried and who was not afraid to take risks. I've never been satisfied with the status quo or playing it safe by never stepping outside of my comfort zone. Coming out at 16 years old was a risk, leaving Alabama at 18 years old for New York City was a risk, packing up and moving to Los Angeles with $400.00 in my pocket without a job and barely a place to lay my head was a risk, but either I was going to choose to let fear lead me or my faith, I chose faith.
One of the biggest risks I've ever taken was writing this blog. With one google search of my name complete strangers have access to intimate details about my life, my views on social and political issues, and if there was ever any doubt about my sexual orientation they can find confirmation right here on this site. Don't be fooled, there are consequences to "living out loud". For every e-mail, letter, or phone call I receive from someone saying how I've been a positive example for them to follow or how I've given them the courage to walk in their truth, there's always a hater waiting to attack my character. But my objective from day one when I wrote my first post is still the same, "If I can just help one person as I travel along the way, then my living shall not be in vain". So no matter what's said about me or who rejects me for being honest about my life, knowing that some other LGBT person realized their life has a purpose and decided not to commit suicide as a result of something I've written makes all of the other stuff worth it.
I must say this because it's been on my heart for the past week and I've been trying to figure out exactly how I should say it without offending anyone, but it's impossible to please everyone so I'm not even going to try. I watched leaders within the black gay community at each other’s throat over the past week and it truly saddened me. This type of behavior does absolutely nothing but further divides us as a people. At what point did activism become all about the messengers "star status" increasing and less about the people you're supposed to be fighting for? If there is anything to be learned from the "great white gay" community is teamwork. If there is ever dissension in the ranks they don't air their dirty laundry in front of the opposition and they definitely don't allow it to take them off course.
Some people in the community even went so far as to call for new leadership. Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with the select few that we identify as visible leaders in the community. The problem is the idea that they are the only ones who can and are willing to address our concerns. Two people cannot speak for an entire community. We all have the capability to address homophobia, hate crimes, HIV/AIDS, religious intolerance, discrimination, racism, and other issues that affect us as black LGBT people.
I know what my purpose is in life and although I may not be that activist who's been at the forefront of the struggle for over twenty years and can be seen everywhere in the media, I'm not afraid to use my voice. At the end of the day at least I can say I tried.