A new social network for Gay professionals called dot429 has started advertising on facebook. Their ads are headlines from 429Magazine, which has a column called Hollywood Duke that seems to be dedicated to documenting how Hollywood keeps gay stars in the closet. Though this choice of focus is oddly specialized, the articles are pretty well written and, after all, the headlines did get me to click on the ad. The more interesting of these articles, Luke Evans is Out, Then In, details the trajectory of a once openly gay actor, Luke Evans, being trundled back into the closet by publicists over the past few years because his career is starting to get traction in major studios. Underneath the Hollywood insider gossip, the article speaks to the part of each of us that wants heroes who fly in the face of convention and stand up for what’s right.
If life has taught me anything, its that if you want to live in a world where there are heroes you have to be heroic yourself.
The University of Washington, where I earned my Bachelors Degree, is about to celebrate its 150th anniversary. As part of the celebration, their alumni association is putting together some sort of giant yearbook. After they prodded me repeatedly with emails asking for an updated bio and contact info, I finally logged in and filled out the forms. The final bit asked for a personal message. The heading read:
“Catch everyone up on your life since you left University of Washington…tell us about your family… or share your favorite memories.”
Here’s what I wrote:
When I finished my Bachelors degree in Comparative Religion, I wanted to become a baker. When that didn’t work out, I pursued a Masters in Electrical Engineering at University of York where I explored Human Computer Interaction and 3D Audio technologies. York is beautiful to visit and the University is home to wonderful scholars. After York, I spent three years at Kagyu Thubten Choling, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Wappingers Falls, New York. There, I learned what it means to live life for others. I also learned how very very hard it is to walk that path. My experiences at the monastery inspired me to start a company, MediaShelf, which works with some of the world’s top libraries and archives to create open source software for preserving and disseminating digital knowledge. Meanwhile, I sit on the board of the Schubert Club in St Paul, MN and serve as a meditation practice leader in Minneapolis for Tergar International. I’m not married nor do I have any children yet. If I were to marry, neither Minnesota nor the US government would recognize it because I’m a homosexual. Despite this, I live in a time and place where I can be happy & openly gay. For that, I’m extremely lucky.
After filling out the alumni association’s forms with ample fields for listing spouses and children, it felt good to provide a calm, firm statement of my perspective. If I hadn’t read that article about Luke Evans this evening, it wouldn’t have even occurred to me to mention it. While re-reading the message, I feel a pang of guilt (or is it fear?) every time I get to the section about gay marriage, but I choose not to listen to that feeling. Even with something as inconsequential as a line in a giant yearbook that I’m unlikely to ever read, it often takes bravery to speak the truth.