We R Who We R: … and Proud of it!

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By: Skip Shefield/TRT Special

2011 was a pride-filled year. Most notably, it was the year that closed the book on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Also, the Obama administration announced its determination that discrimination based on sexual orientation is unconstitutional.

On the airwaves, artists Ke$ha and Lady Gaga boldly sang their support for the gay community with celebratory anthems “We R Who We R” and “Born This Way.” The playing field saw athletes like Swedish soccer player Anton Hysen and British cricketer Steven Davies come out as gay.  Even the be-spangled Olympic figure skating champion Johnny Weir sashayed out of his closet.

Gay bullying became a hot button issue in 2011 and with campaigns like “It Gets Better,” the community proved, once again, it will not cower to hate. We polled some community newsmakers on what they are most proud of and how they plan to celebrate being born this way in 2011.

AIDEN LESLIE
Out Singer

Q. What does PRIDE mean to you?
A. PRIDE means walking with integrity, owning who you are and what you do in your life.

Q. What should the gay community be most proud of in 2011?
A. Every year we move forward as a community. Every year we grow less tolerant of unequal rights. 

Q. What remains our biggest equal rights struggle in 2011?
A. Marriage equality. Once it is recognized, everything else will follow.

Q. What notable person is doing the most for gay rights in 2011?
A. There are too many pioneers to single one specifically. But I do believe if you’re a celebrity and you decide to come out of the closet, it inspires others to do the same.

Q. How will you celebrate Pride this year?
A. I’m looking forward to celebrating and performing several Gay Pride events this summer.

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D ALEXANDER
Out Singer

Q. What does PRIDE mean to you?
A. It is throwing your hands up and saying “f it” to the world. Whether gay or straight, pride is celebrating security within yourself.

Q. What should the gay community be most proud of in 2011?
A. We should be proud of the mark we have left on pop culture. We have made our presence loud and clear. After all, we were “born this way, baby!”

Q. What remains our biggest equal rights struggle in 2011?
A. Even though marriage should be an equal right for all, I think the bigger issue at hand is bullying and teen suicide. Parents need to stop forcing a conformist attitude on their kids. So what if your son wears eyeliner or wants to wear a dress to school? We should all be allowed to express ourselves however we want without having to be made to feel like freaks.

Q. What notable person is doing the most for gay rights in 2011?
A. Lady Gaga. She says everything people wish they could say.

Q. How will you celebrate Pride this year?
A. I am celebrating myself in 2011. D. Alexander is my pride.

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HECTOR FONSECA
Out DJ

Q. What does PRIDE mean to you?
A. Celebration of diversity, acceptance and tolerance.

Q. What should the gay community be most proud of in 2011?
A. Getting rid of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell.” That was a huge victory!

Q. What remains our biggest equal rights struggle in 2011?
A. Gay Teen Bullying. Bullying needs to be stopped on all ends, period.

Q. What notable person is doing the most for gay rights in 2011?
A. Lady Gaga. I remixed Born This Way and didn’t realize the profound effect until I got an e-mail from a young teenager thanking me for making it easier for him to come out and feel comfortable with himself. Gaga should be applauded.

Q. How will you celebrate Pride this year?
A. I’m excited to be spinning fifteen Pride celebrations this summer!

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KIMBERLY DAVIS
Club Diva

Q. What does PRIDE mean to you?
A. Pride means not being inhibited in anything that you do. Everything is full out and no apologies needed.

Q. What should the gay community be most proud of in 2011?
A. The gay community should be proud of all of their achievements. Just being here, queer, and making everyone get used to it!

Q. What remains our biggest equal rights struggle in 2011?
A. Teen bullying is a very serious and sometimes fatal issue. Teenagers need to be properly educated and taught not to profile anyone because of their differences or preferences and it starts from the adults in their lives.

Q. What notable person is doing the most for gay rights in 2011?
A. Anyone making the slightest noise and bringing awareness of how beautiful the community is deserves praise.

Q. How will you celebrate Pride this year?
A. Watching my gay children twirl to “Twist of Love”… oooow!

FAITH MICHAELS
Female Impersonator

Q. What does PRIDE mean to you?
A. Pride to me is not just for the GLBT community to come together, but for our friends and family to show their support for our lifestyle.

Q. What should the gay community be most proud of in 2011?
A. That we keep moving forward.

Q. What remains our biggest equal rights struggle in 2011?
A. All of our struggles are of equal importance as they impact all of our lives.

Q. What notable person is doing the most for gay rights in 2011?
A. Lady Gaga.

Q. How will you celebrate Pride this year?
A. I will be performing on stage, opening the minds of all the straight people watching.

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KELLI
Pop Diva

Q. What does PRIDE mean to you?
A. Pride is owning who you are and affirming what you represent. It is being proud of your identity and advocating for equality.

Q. What should the gay community be most proud of in 2011?
A. The community took further strides towards marriage equality, the awareness of bullying, and showing the world their inevitable pride in themselves as a community.

Q. What remains our biggest equal rights struggle in 2011?
A. Teen bullying is the result of a ripple effect that starts when a young person overhears hateful slurs at the home or observes it in society. This constant borage of discrimination feeds into the minds of teenagers who don’t have the knowledge of accepting people who are different than themselves. Therefore, the ignorance of the unknown continues.

Q. What notable person is doing the most for gay rights in 2011?
A. It is not just one person who has helped the gay community. The gay community as a whole is working together as one towards their goal of equality.

Q. How will you celebrate Pride this year?
A. On stage singing to the boys!

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SARIAH
Queen of Hearts

Q. What does PRIDE mean to you?
A. The freedom to express yourself, love yourself, enjoy yourself, and live life how you want to live.

Q. What should the gay community be most proud of in 2011?
A. The gay community should be so proud of its strong, positive representation in the media. Today, there are so many actors, singers, and dancers expressing themselves fully, not afraid to be free with their sexuality.

Q. What remains our biggest equal rights struggle in 2011?
A. Gay adoption. Earlier this year, a dear friend adopted a young girl with her wife. It was a difficult process for them but they fought through and now triumphantly have the family they wished for.

Q. What notable person is doing the most for gay rights in 2011?
A. Chris Colfer (Kirt Hummel on Glee). I love that his beautiful character is on TV and being welcomed into living rooms all around the world.

Q. How will you celebrate Pride this year?
A. I will celebrate Pride all around the U.S. with my hearts! I will also spend it with my gay sister who I am so proud to call my family.

For a complete listing of Pride events in New England, pick up the June 2nd issue of The Rainbow Times.