HEAR ME OUT

Sharing Our Stories

Tue. October 9, 2012 12:00 AM
by Greg R. Baird

Hello gay Chicago! I'm honored to have ChicagoPride.com ask me to start writing a column, sharing my stories, travel and work as a national lecturer/advocate on LGBTQ issues. My work takes me to the campuses of colleges and universities throughout the school year with a few requests at some high schools. This is my first column, so thank you for reading and letting me share my work with you.

I have been lecturing nationally since 1998, full time since 2003. This all began for me in college years ago, and what a wonderful journey it has been. I am humbled, honored and grateful for the work I do in getting out to the different communities, sharing my story along with listening to so many people talk about the issues that are important to them.

October is a month that reminds me so much of why I do the work I do, and why all of us must share and talk, about whom we are. We live in fear of each other as we are not directly communicating and sharing our stories with one another. I really believe our technology has helped us communicate better, but it also has driven a wedge between many of us. I tell my audiences when I speak, turn off your computers and cell phones and sit down with someone to have a face-to-face conversation. Share your story of who you are. If we are not talking about our LGBTQ history, and ourselves, no one will do it for us.

As I am writing this, I am thinking of what happened in Laramie, WY 14 years ago. The murder/hate crime of Matthew Shepard had an impact on our world. Matt's death changed my life and the lives of so many. His beautiful legacy has inspired so many. Some may think, "Why we are still talking about it?" We cannot forget the people that have been victims of hate crimes and bullying. It is a part of our history. It should be our motivation within our community to make sure we are doing all we can to be better, to seek understanding and peace, but to educate everyone who we are. Breaking free from fear and hate, sharing our story.

October is also National LGBT history Month. It is important we know and teach others about who has made an historical difference in the LGBT community. Our schools are not teaching gay history for our young people, so we need to talk about our past and see how that can help our future. I am thrilled that this month the inaugural dedication of The Legacy Walk is coming to Halsted Street in East Lakeview. This will be the world's first outdoor museum celebrating the accomplishments of the LGBT community. Some of the plaques, installed on the rainbow pylons, will commemorate significant events in LGBT history, but most will memorialize the lives and work of notable LGBT individuals whose achievements have helped shape the world - but whose contributions, sexual orientation or gender identity have been overlooked, minimized or censored entirely from most historic texts.

Sharing our stories of who we are is often not easy. However, when we take down our barriers, the out come is affirming, educational and brings us all together. It is who we are and often that great person within you is dying to get out, to reach out and contribute to the bigger picture. May your journey be wonderful.

Greg Baird is a national LGBTQ college and university lecturer/advocate. For more information about Greg, visit www.gregrbaird.com.

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