Changing outlook offers more options

Gregory A. Kompes

Gregory A. Kompes

Throughout history, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered (GLBT) community has included world leaders, artists, business moguls, sports figures and countless citizens, including local activists, politicians, and community members living and enjoying their gay lives. At an online encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer culture, one can meet many community members who have had an impact on three centuries of western culture, science and society.

America seems to be evolving daily into a more gay-friendly place. Cities and towns, big and small, are recognizing the need to encourage and cater to their diverse populations, and the GLBT community is often the creative core.

Gay-friendly elected officials are changing laws and attitudes at all political levels. New GLBT publications, groups, and events are premiering every day, and an increasing number of employers offer domestic partner benefits.

With these shifting and encouraging attitudes, it may be easier to live one’s life as an openly gay person in America. As more people continue to come out the closet, more attitudes will shift. Who is leading all this change? Those in the middle, pursuing normal, gay-friendly lives, are really the greatest activists of all. When people know someone who is gay, it’s difficult to promote hate.

Whether one chooses to move to an American gay mecca, or turn one’s current hometown into a gay-friendly place, it’s important to know that one is not alone. It’s been a rite of passage for young GLBT community members to leave their hometowns for larger cities in order to come out. Big cities, like Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, San Francisco and Chicago, make transition out of the closet easier. These cities provide large gay communities and diverse environments where a person can literally get lost in the crowds. Big cities provide a sense of safety in numbers.

Large communities also offer formal support systems through gay and lesbian community centers, organized sports and recreational groups and social clubs. The big gay-ghetto or gay mecca provides dwellers and visitors a safety net as they explore and grow through self-discovery.

Don’t rule out smaller towns becoming gay friendly places. As America’s economy continues to shift to creative, high-tech personal services and entrepreneurial start-ups, it is becoming understood that creating and supporting a gay-friendly, diverse community supports economic growth. Smaller cities and towns have begun to actively court the GLBT community. They don’t want to lose their creative, diverse work force to the big cities, but instead hope to draw creative companies to their own.

The current debate about legalizing same-sex marriage is the latest request by the GLBT community for equality. It’s the latest sign that the community and its members are just like everyone else. This position may be the most threatening to conservative society. That realization, that the community is like the majority, that members love and need support just like everyone else, is the greatest realization the community can share with society and the world at large.

With this realization comes the need for emotional support. If one is spiritually inclined, one has many gay-friendly options. The first is traveling one’s own path of spiritual self-discovery by reading any of the thousands of texts on the subject. Another choice is to join a group that promotes and supports the spiritual choice one has made without being judged.

As one travels the path to an increasingly gay-friendly life, he or she should take advantage of all the opportunities, groups and support systems available. If one can’t find an organization, he or she can start a group or organization. Others will follow if one chooses to lead. One is not alone.