Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

When I get home from work every night, I like to watch the classic 90's sitcom Living Single, much like how I still watch the classic 80's sitcom The Golden Girls because the writing is witty and the performances maintain their charm and chemistry to this day.

Conversely, watching these shows can be a bit bittersweet for me because it takes me back to a time when homosexuality was a huge taboo, and growing up knowing that I was dealing with feelings that others wouldn't understand proved to be a bit challenging at times.

Luckily the days of being trapped inside of the closet and being unable to fully express who we are as a community are, for the most part, long gone.

Or are they?

Granted, we march, we parade and we even have our own television networks filled with programming geared towards a predominantly gay audience. But is it an all-inclusive affair? 

The answer to that question will vary depending on who’s asking. Some believe that our voices are loud and finally being recognized because of our visibility in the arts, television and politics.  Some believe that there’s too much dissention when pitted against the rampant body image issues and the ongoing masculine versus feminine debate that draws lines in the sand towards unification. Some believe that the real inclusion comes with the legalization of marriage, insurance benefits for same-sex couples and no longer being treated as second-class citizens.

And then there are those who remain apathetic towards all of these issues because they don't wish to be lumped into the gay community as a whole.

So then what is the gay community?

Are we the sum of our hopes, dreams and accomplishments as seen through quick vignettes during the 11 o'clock news? Or are we the walking, breathing stereotypes that are portrayed on various reality and network television shows?

Our community, just like any other, is an amalgamation of who we are collectively as individuals.

Not as characters, but as human beings.

To answer that with a finite definition would be presumptuous and disrespectful.

We continue to make strides in becoming more unified but just as with anything else that needs work it takes everyone to put aside their differences and converse about the things that tear us apart from within.

The problems that we face can be fixed as long as we're willing to work together. The failure comes when we begin to believe in all of the negativity about ourselves and resort to backbiting, gossip and exclusion because it serves no purpose towards progression.

Much like when I watch Living Single and Golden Girls. I'm inadvertently regressing to a time in my life when I couldn't imagine a world where being gay wouldn't be such a big deal anymore, and that time wasn't too long ago.

So, now that this world exists, I'm hoping that as a community we continue to ensure that our voices are heard and our bond grows stronger as we move forward.


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