Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some good news

I was able to report some fantastic news yesterday on Michigan Messenger. My alma mater, and an institution that is very dear to my heart, has announced the formation of a scholarship for LGBT students. The scholarship is open to any LGBT student under age 25, who has been involved in the community on behalf of the LGBT community. It is good for as many as four semesters and will be allocated each semester.

This is exciting news. I started at LCC as a student in 1989. At that time there were no out gay people on the campus. I ran for the student government, and won. And it is important to note I campaign in drag. True story. I was wearing a tight black leather mini skirt, black fishnets, a black teddy and electric blue high heels and a turquoise blue dress shirt. I also donned a beautiful red wig. I did not shave my chest.

I vividly recall campaigning in the Kennedy Cafeteria in the Arts and Sciences Building. I approached a couple and asked them to vote for me. The woman asked why they should vote for me, and I said, as I lifted my leg onto the table, "because I have hot legs."

She was some what shocked. But he was staring in what can only be described as a weirdly excited way. So I turned to him and said, "right?"

He nodded and I was off to campaign some more. I won the election.

But for many years I was the only gay man on campus who was willing to talk about LGBT Issues. At one point, I was assaulted in a campus bathroom after a meeting I had with student government in which I delivered an impassioned speech about LGBT Issues.

I would often be approached by closeted men who declare "You don't speak for me."

"Here's the microphone, speak for yourself please," I would respond. They refused.

LCC taught me my craft as an actor and director. The institution is responsible for teaching me I have the ability to report as a journalist. But most importantly, LCC taught me I had a voice worth being heard.

For those gifts, I ran for and served on the Board of Trustees for two years. I was then and remain today, the only openly gay man elected to serve on a community college board of trustees. I am proud of that history and I am proud of the LCC district's willingness to entrust me with such an honor.

It is for these reasons I continue to go back to LCC to talk to management classes about being gay in the work place. It is why I talk to sexuality classes about living with HIV. It is the only way I can continue to give back to this beloved institution.

And so today I am asking my friends to take a moment and make a donation -- it needn't be millions of dollars -- to the LCC Foundation's LGBT scholarship fund. Let's keep this fund going for many years to come.

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