Adam, in his own words:
“Being gay means bringing another aspect of diversity and humanity to my community. I believe the best kinds of communities are diverse and have people from all walks of life in terms of not only sexual orientation but also faith, education, race, and other backgrounds. I am proud to bring another aspect — in this case, love — to my friends, family, colleagues and neighborhood.
(Challenges I’ve faced) Discrimination and second-class citizenship. I’ve dedicated much of the last 7 years of my life to resolving that not only for myself but for others in the LGBTQ community. But discrimination goes beyond rights, it’s intrinsic in language and person-to-person treatment. In high school, I was bullied and called names. I overcame that but others still face those challenges. That’s the real next frontier that’s both concurrent with and after legal equality: changing society and how we treat one another in everyday life. The military is legally “safe” for the gays, but gay servicemembers are not always treated as they should be by their peers. Union contracts in major sporting leagues forbid discrimination, but there is no major “out” player as of this post because of fear. Full “personal equality” is the place to which we must get as a society.
(The gay community in DC is) Vibrant. From the Halloween high heel drag race to dozens of gay sports clubs to bear yoga, there’s so many wonderful opportunities to be part of a gay community. Like DC in general, it is status-obsessed and class-based, but once you get past that, people here are good to one another, stand up for each other when we face challenges, and have a helluva lot of fun.
(With regards to my coming-out story) I first told my best friend, Aditi, who was out as a lesbian way back in our high school in the Buffalo suburbs during winter break ’03. Then I told my best college friend Jackie in the dorms at University of Rochester, where we attended undergrad. That gave me courage and I swore I would tell my family before I went away to DC to intern in the summer of ’04.
Just before my trip to DC, I sat watching an episode of Will & Grace with my mom, during which Will and Jack try to turn a straight guy into gay, taking him to musicals and shopping and all. Before a commercial break, they sit on the couch panting, “wow, turning a guy gay is hard!” “Yeah… I wonder how my mother did it?” Fade to commercial. I thought, well, that’s a sign, muted the TV, turned to mom, and told her. I got a big hug and a talk about HIV. With Dad it was much harder because of his background, but we’ve come a long way. My sister heard it from my mom and then word spread.
I think gay people have a much harder time because straight people never have to have that heart-pounding, waiting-for-the-right-moment, fear-of-getting-rejected talk about who they love. I still have to exercise discretion with someone like my 100-year-old grandpa, who passed without ever knowing, or my 3-year-old nephew. It’s unfair but hopefully we as a society come to a place where assumptions aren’t made one way or another about who you love. In college I co-led our “Safe Space” program, training Resident Advisers and others to provide welcoming spaces for LGBTQ students. We taught to ask “are you seeing anyone?” instead of saying “do you have a girlfriend” to a guy. It’s little things like re-doing assumptions which make the coming out process easier for everyone. That, in turn, following Harvey Milk’s clarion “you must come out” call, advances both legal equality and personal equality for all.”