Friday, May 12, 2017

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Written by  Brian George Hose

When I was told, this was going to be our anniversary issue, I realized that the timing couldn’t be better. By some coincidence, it seems that this time of year is full of anniversaries in my life. Usually when it comes to anniversaries we are reminded to look back, but this year’s anniversaries are also reminding me to look forward.

Two of the anniversaries I mentioned are school related. I graduated a year ago with my degree in social work, a feat that required 600 hours of unpaid internships and countless hours of studying outside the classroom. Then, two days later, I was officially accepted to my dream school: the Columbia School of Social Work in New York City. It was one of the happiest moments of my life and one that I’ll treasure forever.

After a few hiccups and logistical challenges, I decided to defer admission for a year. Now, I’m preparing for a campus visit and praying that financial aid and housing comes through. Looking back, none of this would have been possible without the support of friends and family, who encouraged me to go after my dream and who stood by me when times were tough.

I mention school and social work because they helped me appreciate how truly awesome it is that our little paper is celebrating 15 years of service to the LGBTQ community across several states and counties. Creating new and necessary resources is never easy, and it can be even harder to maintain these resources once they’re in place. There’s always energy and enthusiasm surrounding new projects, but that excitement can sometimes wain once the newness wears off.

This is where commitment comes in. Getting started requires money, time, and true dedication. Many of our readers may not know how much time, talent, and energy go into producing a single issue of Baltimore OUTloud, but I can say with certainty that it’s a lot. Even more impressive is the number of volunteers who donate their time and service, meaning that this is a paper for us, by us.

What this tells me is that we have a community that cares, that makes us and the issues affecting our lives visible not just in major cities, but also small towns throughout the region. When I was growing up in rural Western Maryland it was rare to meet someone who even knew an out-LGBTQ person; now, we’re celebrating 15 years of being visible, of living Baltimore OUTloud. This is important for so many reasons, but mostly because when we are able to see others like us we know we aren’t alone, that it gets better, that the world is changing.

I think it’s important to remember this when looking into the future. Consider how much progress has been made during the life of this paper. Now, consider how much progress has been made since Stonewall. We as a community have made huge strides in fighting for and achieving equality in various forms. We have created a voice that cannot be silenced and a presence that cannot be ignored.

When it seems that our community is vulnerable, remember how we got to where we are today. We banded together, pitched in, and achieved our goals. We took care of each other and formed a community. This anniversary is a celebration to remember because it’s a celebration of us, the LGBTQ community. It’s a testament to what we can achieve when we work together, and that’s worth celebrating.


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