Breaking Free From Self-Doubt

“Internalized stigma” – I hear that phrase a lot in the spaces I frequent. I hear it so often I think it’s become a buzzword. Why do I feel bad? Internalized stigma. Why are you down on yourself? Internalized stigma. Why can’t this or that person get out of their own way? Internalized stigma. There’s very little commentary on what Internalized stigma is, just that we are having reactions to it. So … let’s define it. Overcoming internalized stigma Stigma is negative stereotypes and attitudes about a specific group of people. Internalized stigma (or “felt stigma”) is when we take […]

Hope Rising

I know this is a scary time.  It’s scary because of the pandemic; the civil unrest; our rights being rolled back; and we’re waiting on SCOTUS. And yet something tells me this is the year things change – for all of us.  For every time one of us cried about what they called us.  For every time we buried someone we didn’t have to bury except for hatred and injustice.  For every time one of us cried for a god to step in and stop it – it’s finally happening.  People around the world are standing up, demanding justice, and […]

Further Along Than We Think

I can tell you from personal experience the world is vastly different today than it was 20-plus years ago when I came out of the closet. Shoot! Its vastly different than it was a year ago. We have more allies, more protective laws, and we have more opportunities than ever before to figure out own likes/dislikes, personalities, purpose in life, and our tribe. Our tribe  the group of people that loves us just as we are  has gotten broader because more and more people accept us instead of attacking us. Thats created opportunity. No longer do we have to hang […]

The Other Side of Survival

What does it mean to be equal to everyone else? It means that we get the opportunity to know ourselves, be ourselves, and embrace ourselves. We get to self-actualize. In other words, we get to fulfill our individual talent and potential. On a larger scale it means that we become capable of opening the door for others until one day we can take the door off for all – for good. That’s what I like about talking to people who’ve “made it”. Each one of them tells a story about how, in the face of incredible odds, they’ve found a […]

Why We Must Win

Once a month I do a vlog with someone who is in recovery and part of the LGBT community. The reason I do it is because the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) studies indicate that LGBT people experience substance-use disorders at a rate of 20-to-30%. That’s way higher than the general population’s rate of 9%. Maybe addiction is high because the same things that help a person to stay in the closet, and partly safe, are the same conditions that make a person ripe for addiction. Things like secret-keeping, numbing out, isolation, and comparison all keep us […]

Aim for Thriving

I’ve sat down many times over the last several months to write this series of articles. Every time I came up short. After all, it’s difficult to say to others like myself that in a world which is fundamentally unsafe to us and threatens to destroy us that we must find a way to know ourselves, be ourselves, and embrace ourselves. Regardless of all the stigma we’ve internalized or externalized, the rules that are placed upon us by a heteronormative society, or even the rules that are placed upon us by our own LGBT community itself – somehow we must […]

Doing Our Part

I’m the type off person that likes to know exactly how we’re getting to a destination; accomplishing a goal; or moving forward. This need to plan also includes being able to see the entire map before I start any trip. It can be annoying for others who like to “go with the flow.” The need to plan can be frustrating for me with this work because of the uncertainty. Needless to say, I’ve had to learn to accept and embrace uncertainty. Maybe you are like me? This worldwide endeavor that so many advocates and educators are on to do the […]

Outwardly Affirming

“The assumption is negative unless you are outwardly affirming.” – Tom Koerber Now, you may already know this. Then again you may not. Cpl. Robert Koch joined the growing list of Maryland LGBTQ liaisons throughout our state in April. He joins professionals like Jabari Lyles of the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office; Lt. Becky Fetcher of the Hagerstown police department; Sommer Gray of Sinai / Lifebridge Health – just to name a few. In Cpl. Koch’s own words – directly from the Anne Arundel county police department’s official press release, “As a member of the LGBTQ community myself, I feel honored […]

Call Me By My Name

Since December 2017 the Anne Arundel County Police Department has had a department policy on how to interact with transgender people in an appropriate and dignified manner. We’ve been reviewing the policy in class. The policy states that, “no person shall be discriminated against based on gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other basis.” The policy not only provides some very basic definitions, it also gives instructions on addressing members of the trans community with a person’s preferred first name and appropriate pronouns. The policy prompts the officer to remember that you can’t ask a person about their anatomy or […]

Talking with Police

In December 2018 Corporal Erica Mahan from the Anne Arundel County Police Department Training Academy reached out the Maryland LGBT Chamber of Commerce seeking a trainer to conduct LGBT Cultural Awareness classes to all police officers during their annual in-service trainings. I was one of the trainers the Chamber recommended. What I’ve since learned is that the Training Academy had been conducting diversity training for the County officers for several years as part of Chief Timothy Altomare’s fair and impartial policing mandate. Learning about the many communities that make up the county gives the officers a better understanding of who’s […]