A Gay in the Life for Sept. 27, 2012

For Weekly SurgeSeptember 24, 2012 

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I’m breaking up with you

As I set down to write this column, I searched through old epitaphs and the many ways we choose to say goodbye to those in our life. As many of you know, this will be my last column as your “Gay in the Life” journalist and friend. “How lucky I am to have known someone who was so hard to say goodbye to.”

I was part of the original team at Weekly Surge and took over this column soon after our first issue hit the streets. Years later, I found myself moving to the Tampa Bay for new adventures and career opportunities. While never forgetting the friends and family we have along the Grand Strand and in the Carolinas, we’ve formed a new life – albeit an extremely busy one in our new home of St. Petersburg, Fla. So after a few years of writing from afar, I felt that it was time I said “goodbye” to this chapter in my life. My hope is that someone will take the reigns and continue to serve as the voice of the local LGBT community in Myrtle Beach – a very important task. (See below).

In the years that I’ve had the pleasure of writing this column, I’ve taken a look at several topics and we’ve all seen the world change quite a bit, especially in terms of LGBT equality and acceptance. I’ve covered workplace discrimination, local charity events, nightclubs coming and going along the Strand and more. Each year, I hopefully have given you some unique gift ideas around the holiday season with my annual LGBT Holiday Shopping Guide. I’ve looked at Prides around the world (partially while running the largest such event in Florida), political happenings, fights and mishaps (i.e. toe-tapping senators), plenty of marriage equality news, travel ideas, movies and all-things simply “gay.” We’ve had fun together, gotten mad together and even cried a few times together – but overall, I hope this column has helped us build community together.

Around us, the world has changed drastically, and although, I’ve probably been more optimistic than most regarding the future of marriage equality in our country, I can honestly say that signs are pointing to a final resolution of the issue within the next few years – nationwide. I hope I’m not proven wrong. Our lives are difficult and our civil rights are almost more difficult to achieve and understand than most. We are a hidden minority in the world and often in our own communities.

Consider this – a young African American child goes to school where the majority of other kids are white. He gets bullied, picked on, beat up and called names. He feels threatened and goes home to tell his parents. His parents understand because they likely went through the same thing. Although, thankfully, this scenario isn’t as common today as it was 40 years ago, keep this in mind when considering the same scenario – but this time, the child is picked on for being different in a different way. He may be a little effeminate or people have heard he’s not really interested in girls. He may have even been “outed” by a group of students. Who does he go home to? Have his parents ever experienced this? They likely don’t understand what it’s like to be determining your sexual orientation and realizing that it’s not the norm. You’re alone – without even your most trusted safeguard available to turn to. You’re part of a hidden minority now – and you feel like you’ll always be.

While our parents may never fully understand us when we come out, nor should we expect them to, the hope is that as we move into the future more and more of them, along with our family and friends, will not turn their backs on young LGBT kids. They will accept them and continue to encourage them to live successful and most importantly, long lives. Our world is changing. The majority of Americans now feel that same-sex marriage should be legalized. Our neighbors to the north and south of our borders have legalized gay marriage. Marriage equality is now a reality in six states and the District of Columbia, including Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont, plus in two Native American tribal jurisdictions and several states and local jurisdictions offer some form of civil union or domestic partnership protections. Same-sex marriage was passed in Washington and Maryland this year, but each will face a referendum during this year’s election. Maine will also vote to establish same-sex marriage.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has been repealed allowing our lesbian and gay soldiers to fight proudly and honestly, adoption by same-sex couples is now legal in all 50 states and our workplace, housing and hospital protections are stronger than ever before. So as I close out this journey with you, I go back to a slight variation on my old column closing: “Til next time, have fun and be safe.”

You never leave someone behind, you take a part of them with you and leave a part of yourself behind. I hope that what I’ve left, all of you will continue and I know that what I take helps me each day to continue work in the LGBT community helping to improve cooperation, expand equality and make the world we all see in our dreams a reality sooner rather than later whether it be in Myrtle Beach or anywhere else in the country.

TAKE THE REIGNS

Interested in continuing A Gay in the Life as the new columnist for Weekly Surge? If you, or someone you know, is interested, please send a note to Editor Kent Kimes at kkimes@weeklysurge.com. No phone calls please. We’re looking for someone with a proven ability to write clearly and engagingly about complex issues, but in a way that connects with local readers; someone who is tuned into the local LGBT community (but not pushing a business or organization-related agenda), someone who is bursting with ideas and creativity, and, this is very important: is a stickler for deadlines and can file articles on time every two weeks. This involves talking to sources and interviewing real people, so its not suited for introverts and wallflowers. Knowledge of AP style is a plus, as is the ability to cover events at night and on the weekends.

OUT & ABOUT

Saturday, Sept. 29 - Careteam’s Annual 2012 AIDS Walk kicks off Saturday at Plyler Park on the corner of North Ocean Boulevard and 11th Avenue North in downtown Myrtle Beach. The community-based event raises money to support those affected and infected by HIV/AIDS in Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg Counties. If you are interested in participating in this year’s AIDS Walk, registration is at 9:30 a.m. and the walk starts at 10:30 a.m. Minimum donation is $5, although all walkers are encouraged to raise as much as possible by getting friends, family and co-workers to sponsor you or forming a team of folks to raise money. All of the proceeds go directly to help Careteam and its services. For more information about the walk, visit www.careteamsc.org or call 236-9000.

Friday, Oct. 5 - The First Friday Happy Hour group will meet from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5 at Damon’s Oceanfront Grill, 2985 S. Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. First Friday is a gay professionals’ after work happy hour where everyone is welcome. For more information, e-mail FirstFriday@GambleLivingston.com

Saturday, Oct. 13 - CLAWS, the Coastal Leather Allegiance to Wisdom and Service will host its monthly Happy Hour social at PULSE Ultra Club, 803 Main Street in downtown Myrtle Beach. The group meets monthly for fun and entertaining themed happy hour events and has found a new home at this new nightlife venue. For more information, visit www.clawsllc.com.

Have a thought, comment or Out & About event? Send Chris Rudisill an e-mail to SouthernGayWriter@gmail.com.

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