It’s been a minute!  It’s thrilling to be back with the rest of the squad at Baltimore OUTloud. Which brings me to the whole point of today’s column.  We don’t do anything in a vacuum.  We literally stand on the shoulders of giants.  We can be proud of that and remember this fact when the winds of change rock us around.  We can be proud instead of scared. 

I get it, the crazy stuff that is being proposed these days in the name of “protection” is not just putting lipstick on a pig (how do you like that metaphor?) – it’s also dangerous. It’s enough to drive a person to frustration and fear. It’s also enough to cause us to reconnect to each other, to our past, to our victories, and to our resilient selves. 

The LGBTQ community is a community because we take care of our own.  If you need support, we’ve got you.  If you need a safe job, we’ll connect you.  If you need to find your tribe, come to the club – either the dance club or the DnD club, whatever is your preference.  If you need a brave place to figure out who you are and what that means for you, we have peer support groups. You need something productive to do – we have lots of things that need to be done.  Improving people’s lives takes a village. Rebuilding our own in an authentic manner does, too. 

I’m speaking broadly of the community as a whole. Let me speak specifics for a minute. We’re all going through the uncertainty of the moment.  We can do it together because of the courageous people who led us here.  At present there are more than 450 anti-LGBTQ bills filed nationwide, including nearly 300 targeting kids.  As Karine Jean-Pierre said in a recent press conference, “These bills are not about improving access to healthcare, making schools safer, lowering costs for Americans, and they’re not about addressing our country’s mental health crisis.” They are about making life more difficult for other Americans – us.  This is affecting all of us – not just young people in isolated communities. 

I’m the board chair of the Frederick Center, an LGBTQ community center in Frederick. I tell you that to say, we’re going through this moment publicly also.  At first, I wanted to tell you my frustration at the moment. I’m not going to write about that because on the other side of my frustration I discovered it isn’t nearly as important as remembering who we are. And the giants, whose shoulders we stand on. 
I’ll tell you – I’m a proud Marylander and a native Baltimorean. I came out and found the resources at the GLCCB. I am one of many of the people who benefited from the leaders of the GLCCB, now the Pride Center of Maryland. Maybe you are too. Like the Pride Center, the Frederick Center exists because brave souls said I want more and I’m willing to create it for myself and others. I stand on their shoulders – the shoulders of giants. The entire board and staff do, as does every single person who avails themselves of our services. We’re not alone.

I am one of millions who benefit from the leadership of Harvey Milk. I am one of millions who benefited from the bravery of the folx at Compton’s Cafeteria, the Mattachine Society, the Daughters of Bilitis – you are too.  We stand on the shoulders of giants.  Many people throughout history have said “They tried to bury us; they didn’t know we were seeds.”  Look at the story of Magnus Hirschfeld and the Nazis for one such example – I’m certain you can find more.  Shoot!  You probably thought of someone immediately. Remember them in our moments of fear, frustration, and uncertainty – we stand on the shoulders of giants. If you don’t know of our history check out books and podcasts.  I’m currently listening to “History is Gay” and

“Making Gay History.”  OMG!  The giants whose shoulders we stand on!
I know it’s easy to focus on what’s wrong. It’s always available, so is what’s right. Focusing on our fear and frustration alone will never make us free – it traps us in the dark behind a wall of pain, grief, and misery.  Working towards a vision will set us free – if we have the courage to move forward and work together. Remember, the giants whose shoulders we stand on weren’t just noticing and talking about the injustices – they were creating plans, taking action, and making adjustments as needed. We can do the same. Cry if you must and when you put your head up remember – we need you, we can do anything together, and we stand on the shoulders of giants.

When you’re ready – come find the community.  We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going anywhere. You can find us at community centers, pride organizations, PFLAG groups, the LGBTQ chamber of commerce, and others throughout Maryland. We have peer groups, chances to volunteer, celebrations, and other things that can help to turn the light on in the darkness. Get involved, one day you will be the giant whose shoulders we stand on because the small steps you take today will mean massive gains in the future.  If you don’t believe me, look into the history of marriage equality.

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Johanna Dolan
Johanna Dolan
“The principal of Dolan Research International, Johanna M. Dolan brings nearly two decades of personal experience as an entrepreneur, nine years as a professional financial planner, eighteen years as a life coach, and eight years as an ordained minister. She speaks openly and candidly on issues ranging from addiction, dysfunctional relationships, finances, the effects of long term chronic illness on life, and more.”