Saturday, January 3, 2009

I love my community...

A look at the 2008 ‘SameSame’ Top 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbians and a young gay man lucky enough to be at this monumental event.

I, Ben Gresham am proud of my community.

A community of gay and lesbian men and women who can achieve anything.

Faced with some of the greatest injustices, our community still has a long way to go until we achieve equality. The ‘SameSame’ Top 25 list showcased some of the outstanding men and women who are changing our nation and our world, breaking negative stereotypes and showing people everywhere that equality, freedom and human rights matter.

Invited by Anthony Venn-Brown, whose name appeared on the list in 2007, I was given the opportunity to see my community as they really were. The stereotypes were breaking all around me as I spoke to intelligent, powerful, talented gays and lesbians. Sure there was that bit of gay humour and some funny, perhaps inappropriate jokes, but here was a room full of people, that despite all the challenges, and hardships, have risen to the top and are influencing the way the world thinks and acts.

Only six months before, in June 2008, I had come out to family, friends and church and yet I found myself lucky enough to be talking to some of the greatest people you will ever meet. As the night progressed, the dreams, passions and desires in my heart began to soar and I can see that what may seem impossible is actually possible. I believe that gay people have a place in the church and that homosexuality is NOT a sin or sickness. It is not a choice but it is an orientation which cannot be changed.

Earlier this year, I had attempted suicide twice after several years of ex-gay programs and being taught to hate who I was. I almost succeeded in killing myself and I know others who have died because of the intensity of these programs and the reality that they cannot become straight. Saving lives and preventing suicide matter.

Each of us has a part to play in our community. Whether it is a big role like being the Justice of the High Court of the Nation or a small one like selling red ribbons on World Aids Day. Everything counts. We are in this together. The stand for equality and gay rights must be taken by all of us. We can stand proud and live openly and honestly as gay men and women.

Don’t be scared to change the world!!

By Benjamin Gresham