The experiences I have had a gay person of color have mainly been stereotypes and name-calling. Growing up I had to deal with people outside of the LGBTQ community and their views of what gay is or should be. Being a gay African-American male growing up in Los Angeles I figured it was normal to be called names and pointed at because I was different than most.
Coming out in high school forced me to be my authentic self. I knew that I would need to be thick-skinned and be the only person I could be, while acknowledging I am more than a gay black male. Staying true to myself made high school fun as well as the following years of my life. I have not had any horrible experiences of gay-bashing or acts of hate. I have stayed true to who I am and that is something I live by to this day.
As an adult, my experience has been that people have wanted to place me in a box, so that they could feel comfortable. Now in my work life sometimes I feel that I have to include “gay” in my introduction, because there’s always that one person that needs to know, “Are you gay?”
“Be Visible, Be Counted” means to me that you’re living your authentic life. Be aware of who you are and stand strong. Never allow a person to dim your light. Show the world that you are more than the labels society puts on you. Stand strong in who you are.
Reginald Charles Jr
Las Vegas, NV