OpEd: The OUT50 Celebrates Your Lives

My mom used to say, “as long as you can open your eyes, there is beauty in this world to see.”

For the second year, SFGN illuminates the achievements and accolades of specific individuals with the journalistic adventure we brand as our “OUT 50.”

It’s a significant enterprise because it celebrates in one single issue the wide breadth and magnificent diversity of our community. For five years now, the goal at SFGN has been to illuminate the good lives and honorable deeds so many of you work so hard to accomplish each day. Today’s edition is a snapshot of who we are and what we do. There is beauty to see.

Each person featured today is representative of comparable individuals who also stand out personally and professionally. The marvel of the South Florida LGBT community is again, like last year, how many more candidates could have been included in this year’s ‘OUT50.’ Very simply, we could have gone with an ‘OUT100.’ Cutting down the list was no easy task. We are blessed with so many people who do so much good in so many ways.

Since 1999, when I first published the Express Gay News, I have watched South Florida’s LGBT community grow exponentially in size and stature, prestige and influence. Gay men and women are represented in every walk of life. We hold elective office, run corporations, manage businesses, and operate entrepreneurial enterprises, from nightclubs to real estate firms. Today, our newspaper celebrates fifty such lives, from caretakers to community leaders.

Pericles, the marvelous ancient Greek statesman once remarked, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”

Our selections today capture persons who deserve acclaim and recognition for weaving their way into our hearts and souls with their accomplishments. We understand fully how many more people could have been chosen.

Every week, our newspaper starts off as a blank tablet, a ‘tabula rasa.’ It is filled by stories illuminating our lives, articles reporting our history, opinions representing our ideals, and advertisers sharing their own mission and purpose. From this collage, a community paper emerges, showcasing gay men and women at work and at play, lending a hand, putting on a pride festival, hosting an AIDS walk, selling real estate, or operating a clinic. We each do our part, and the rainbow comes together. The quilt is woven.

For too many years, in too many parts of America, and still today in too many parts of the world, the LGBT community has been an outcast. We were denied rights we were always entitled to, degraded to a social status that was immoral and unjust. Look how much we have come out of the shadows. You helped make that happen. Something Harvey Milk used to say rings true; that being ‘out’ helps make that happen.

The ‘OUT 50’ undertaking is meant to be inclusive, not exclusive. Each year, the list will grow, but the greater truth is that it grows everyday by those of you within our LGBT community doing your work daily with professionalism and grace, whether you are decorating a cake at Publix or providing divine inspiration in a sermon. There is no numerical limitation on goodness.

The good you do comes back to you, whether or not your name finds recognition and notice in a community newspaper. But be careful, so does the bad. As a credentialed newspaper, SFGN embraces celebrating our achievements, but we don’t turn away from our warts and wounds. They get ink as well. We are what we are. Today, we give life to 50 persons of whom we can all be proud. We are fortunate to live in a community where LGBT lives can be so celebrated.

We must never forget and never abandon our brothers and sisters in so many places across this globe where there is still only condemnation for gay and lesbian lives. Let’s not forget just how many more roads still need to be travelled so that there will be universal justice for gay and lesbian human rights.

As long as we all continue to make a difference in the lives of our community, the ‘OUT50’ will grow and grow. There is love, beauty, inspiration, and room for everybody within this enlarging circle. May you live your lives so.

Thank you.

Visit SFGN.com/OUT50nominations to nominate a South Florida LGBT person for next year’s OUT50 list.


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