Well folks, I’m back! As a matter of fact, I’ve been back to work with Restoring Pride since February. I’d like to share with you why I do, what I am doing with Restoring Pride. It begins in 2009 where I was on the fast track to an appointment to the United States Naval Academy and a career as a naval officer. This was my childhood dream. When that dream was stripped away from me by my Commanding Officer in an instant, to what amounted to an unpaid speeding ticket, I merely went back to work and made a new plan. Still on the career Navy track. Soon after, I was being yelled at by my Chief of the boat, for what I never actually knew. I wasn’t paying attention to any of it. Then he asked me where I was the night before. I felt no reason to be ashamed or lie about where I was so I told him. It just so happened I had been to a few gay bars in town and that was the end. I was crucified and tossed into the garbage heap almost immediately. Still, I didn’t let it slow me down and I made new plans and new dreams and new goals. As a civilian… This is where my story begins. As I mentioned, my childhood dream was to go the Naval Academy and a career in the Navy. This is the only path I saw for myself from a very young age. I never even imagined life as a civilian. Not once. I have struggled with this life I never wanted. I am still struggling to make it out in the world as a civilian. My life was still, unimaginably perfect at first. Not a single hair out of place anywhere in a very full and happy life. How was I to know that there were these drug problems or that there were so many homeless members of the LGBTQ community? Until it came out of nowhere and sucked me in with absolutely no remorse. I was out of control without the slightest clue as to what was happening to me. When my parents got involved, well, it did not take me long to realize that my very serious drug problem was just the beginning. I was tricked out of my home, my friends began to lie to me about everything that was happening, my parents who were in California supposedly to help had absolutely no interest in me or my problems. Their only concern was how I had created this problem for them and their plans. Then somehow, the gaslighting began. I won’t learn this word for another several years at this point in my story. I had no idea what was happening to me, who was doing it, why it had all started immediately after my parents got involved so I was terrified. I was afraid for my life and this time it wasn’t the drugs that were trying to kill me! Soon after I began hearing voices, and seeing things that should not have been there. I recognized these facts as they were but I didn’t understand what was going on. I tried turning to the police for help. Afraid for my life, not able to understand what was happening around me, but that only ever resulted in me getting arrested for things that weren’t even true. And this continued for many many years. Roughly beginning in 2012, and I didn’t put an end to it all until June 29th 2018. During that time the voices and the screaming and the sights of things that did not belong never stopped. The voices more specifically were of my mother desperately screaming in my head non-stop 24/7 telling me “YOU ARE NOT A HOMOSEXUAL!”, and other equally ridiculous things that she was trying to force me to be. Or of my parents screaming and fighting at each other. Which I had never actually seen them argue or fight or scream at all, ever growing up so it couldn’t have been something conjured in my own head since I had never seen that behavior in them before, and my sister would just start yelling randomly whining and complaining about everything. All of this in my head!!!! Tell me how this is supposed to be drug related?! It never made any sense! I have no idea how they managed to do it or how it was happening in my head in the first place!?! The only thing I knew to do was to fight back! To dismiss the sociopaths desperate to control me and my life’s narrative. The police constantly harassing me because I fought back against the police whenever they got involved, and they were never able to do anything to me no matter how much of a spectacle I was making demanding my right to exist as me and nobody else! Most people only ever know how to escalate conflict. This truth about human beings is absolutely ridiculous in my opinion, and nobody ever wins. I only ever got louder, gayer, prouder of who I was and what I was doing, and to hell with everybody else! You know what, it worked every time! I was untouchable! I cannot believe some of the crazy ridiculous things I was able to get away with by the end! However, I was only ever fighting for my right to exist. For the rights of all LGBTQ people who are subjected to the same institutional ignorance I was. For the lives that had been lost fighting this fight. I was alive, and I do not taking this for granted. That is where I am today. With Restoring Pride, I am still fighting. I do not want the next generation of gay kids to be afraid of the kind of discrimination and persecution that exists today. The incredible life I had before I lost everything I owe to the last generation who all but died off completely in the worst possible way during the AIDS epidemic. To their dying breath they fought for their right to exist. I owe everything I’ve ever had to them. I want Restoring Pride to be the beginning of the end of this fight against homelessness and addiction within the LGBTQ community. I want others to have the resources at their disposal and readily available to get them back on their feet without any unnecessary pain and suffering. I never want any other person, gay or otherwise to ever experience what I was subjected to for so long. If I can do all this, I will only ever be grateful for losing everything to addiction, to being tortured by my parents, harassed and abused by police and violently dehumanized by the Veterans’ Administration. Because, it will mean someone else never will. They will simply exist as themselves. And they can be happy. Without fear, without shame.
Every person has the right to be truly happy. No matter what that looks like.