We Are What We Are

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The year is 2013, and the diversity and breadth of this magazine is reflective of LGBT life in America today. As the cast sung in La Cage, we are who we are, and our lives need no explaining. No more apologies, no more excuses, no more hiding in the shadows.

We are a community that spent centuries living in a closet, and now we are publishing magazines listing the five most prominent LGBT CEO’s, top gay athletes, or renowned and open community leaders. The fact that we can publish and find advertisers for a magazine promoting transparently gay lives is testimony to the fact that gays have indeed found a place at the table in our body politic, as well as in our expanding modern families. It’s not just a TV show. It’s American life today.

In the next election cycle in South Florida, more than a dozen openly LGBT candidates will be running for city commission, county commission, or in judicial races. Our nation has elected an out lesbian to the United States Senate, and openly gay men and women are mayors in many cities. The Acting Secretary of the Air Force is a gay man, and so is the head of one of the most successful corporations in America, Apple.

We are no longer a novelty, and we are going to be measured by the quality of our work, not the quantity of our numbers. We will be gauged by our performance with our clothes on in the daytime, not who we do in the nighttime. It is a different world today than it was yesterday.

Ask fitness guru Jillian Michaels, featured on these pages, or Cantor Mark Goldman, leading a congregation in prayer and faith. Talk to Brad Sears or Lee Badgett at the Williams Institute, representatives of a think tank at the University of California. The LGBT community is being measured by social contributions and university degrees. Yet the piece on Andrew Christian by author Ryan Dixon teaches us you can combine homoeroticism with professionalism.

Ask Greg Louganis, silver-haired but living positively with HIV, now publicly marrying his partner. Decades ago, he was the victim of social and self-inflicted pain. Today, he can talk with Anderson Cooper on CNN about the wrongs being visited upon gay athletes as they go to compete in Sochi, Russia for the International Olympics.

Times change slowly, but the barriers are coming down one by one, aren’t they? It is a safer world for gays today, though bullying still takes a terrible toll. The difference is that the bullies are jailed, not humored, exposed by journalists like Don Lemon or Jane Velez Mitchell. We are out there defending ourselves, whether it comes from a local voice like Dean Trantalis at the Fort Lauderdale City Commission or an activist attorney like George Castrataro fighting for a client.

Discrimination based on gender still exists, but we are a nation more cognizant of the learning curve we must still ascend. AIDS is no longer a ‘gay’ disease, but we are a community still aware that gay men must take greater cautions to do their share in bringing an end to the pandemic. If you want to join the military, you are only gauged by how straight you can shoot.

Jim Naugle and his wife living together in their house as a couple in Fort Lauderdale is no different than Al Cicotte and Kevin Palombo living in their home as a couple in the same city. They want their garbage picked up on time, and their streets to be safe. Doctor Howard Cunningham and his partner Steven Vianest have as much a right to raise their adopted child, as does a straight couple.

Gay or straight, we all want a world of peace and harmony, not grief and disaster. But life often brings us chaos and calamity. Even if you do not swim from Cuba to the Keys, there will always be jellyfish in your path. Sooner or later, we will be stung, even if we are living in a world where it has become easier and safer to be openly gay. It wasn’t always this way. It wasn’t so long ago that gay life was secret, and every Rock Hudson was a stone in a dark closet.

October is LGBT history month, and it salutes out gay men and women who have made a difference in our lives as a community. That is what I think the Mirror does in this issue. It celebrates the achievements and accomplishments of people in the headlines and those on the sidelines. We all play a unique role. It is our individuality that we have in common.

The day of Gay America has come, like the dawn of a new morning. It shines upon us with opportunity, invites us to a higher calling, and challenges us to reach a plateau of dignity and grace. Now that we have broken down so many barriers, let us, with our own lives, show America what it has been missing.


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Greg Kabel
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