Andrew, in his own words: “Three words sum up being gay for me: uniqueness, complexity and celebration.
I once participated in an “It Gets Better” video where I commented, “being gay is the best thing ever, I wish everyone was gay because it’s so much happiness.” I still wish this but for a myriad of reasons it isn’t possible. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it is you don’t choose to be this way, you’re born it.
When I was a kid I can recall trying to fit in with the “other boys.” They all talked about girls, sports and “guy things” like cars. I could never quite understand why I wasn’t able to speak on their level. When I realized I was gay I started to feel more accepting of my own identity and realized I didn’t need to try and fit in, my being different was something I wanted to celebrate.
The one thing I want to convey is each gay person is different and special. Yes, you’ve got those who love shopping, drag queens and makeup but there are also people like myself who are religious, don’t really care for gay bars and would rather watch “House of Cards” than “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.”
(With regards to challenges) I tend to work in some conservative circles professionally and while I’ve never felt unwelcome I think there’s an education deficit a lot of older people face on sexual orientation. If 90 percent of life is just showing up then I’m making progress. The way I combat those unfamiliar with issues surrounding sexual orientation is by being present, hard working and let my actions, not simply my sexual orientation speak for itself.
The LGBT community in Washington, DC is very supportive and proud. I feel blessed to be an active member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, which has given me some amazing performing opportunities and close friends. Like other large cities however, DC can be a transient town. While I feel settled, those closest to you can be gone in an instant making developing lasting relationships difficult.
I was blessed in many respects to be from Connecticut, which has been one of the most progressive states on equality in the country. When I was eighteen years old and in my first semester of college I started dating a guy and things quickly became serious. I remember I was terrified to tell anyone in my family. I’m closest to my mom and knew if there were anyone I would tell first it would be her.
Never could I do the whole blatant “I’m gay” thing so I had to figure out a way of telling her who I was in a different manner. We were talking one day and she knew I had been spending a lot of time with this guy. I remember telling her I had to go see my boyfriend and she kind of stared at me. She didn’t understand at first and then it all sank in. Like many mothers she cried at first but was very understanding and loving. The best part of the experience was she did the heavy lifting and told the rest of my family, most of which already knew and didn’t care. Old news in their mind. “