I like to believe that I am a “blogger”. I don’t know that I am the best writer, I would not say I have a huge following of contemporaries who really want to read what I have to say, and I surely wouldn’t say my messages are always on point. But what I can say about the topics which I explore is that they are topics which are seemingly pertinent to people that span a number of social spectrums.
I recently repackaged one of my blogs Payne & Simple and gave it the subtitle of “Gay, Black, & Jewish”. I thought it catchy, and relevant, as most of the content I aimed to explore would be focused on issues of gay identity in relation to race/ethnicity and religion. Strikingly what I have found is since this repackaging I have focused on images of gay people of color in the media—it’s been a coincidence of sorts. The limited, at times, unflattering, stereotypical images of men of color in the media have long been a concern of mine and only within the last few years have I found a voice and method of which to engage this concern.
In 2008 I ran a successful national, slightly international, campaign to be nominated as the first title holder of Mr. Gay Bachelor Ohio for mypartner.com’s America’s Gay Bachelor contest. I stepped out in a public forum because I thought there would be no brown faces in the competition if someone didn’t step up and say brown men are included in this community too. I was beside myself when I won the nomination and I was glad to make it to the top five in the national search. My message was one of acceptance, openness, and community…a message I believe rings true to this day for all people in the LGBT community. While I only came in 3rd place a fire had been sparked for me and I knew I could not stop there.
In the years post I became more active, and visible, on outlets like Twitter and Facebook—sharing my story and highlighting issues related to gay men of color. It is my hope that even the slightest traction gained from my personal story will inspire and encourage others to be true to who they are. In 2009 I was invited to sit on the steering committee for the Human Rights Campaign in the San Francisco Bay Area; I was also asked to serve as the co-chair the San Francisco Bay Area HRC Gala for 2010. In those moments I felt as if I had made it…I had the chance to be a face for gay men of color—I realize the dream was much bigger than me.
Today I find myself still trying to be a voice for others, trying to encourage others to be ok with who they are, and notably trying to remind the larger society that gay men of color exist and we exist in many forms.