How I'm helping change the perspective of gay people in a small, southern, town (A positive post)!

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    Sep 24, 2012 6:29 AM GMT
    I began to truly realize I was gay when I was 19. A couple of months before my 20th birthday (this previous July) I met my boyfriend in Las Vegas (I live in Alabama) and truly started coming to terms with who I was.

    First know this: I live in the Bible Belt here in the U.S. You hear all sorts of stories of racist, homophobic people in Alabama, and I'm sure a lot of them are true. My town's population rests at about 13,000 but feels so much smaller to me as I work in Wal-Mart and see the same customers every week (not counting seeing them at the gas station, movie theater, town events, ect). The point I'm trying to make is people are going to find out your business, and go out of their way to spread it to others.

    I've worked at Wal-Mart for 2 years and have really enjoyed it. I was recognized early for being a kind worker (had many customers call the store manager via the receipt and give compliments) and a hard worker (I was quickly promoted to a Cashier Manager and Department Manager at 19). I met some really awesome friends and got along with almost everyone in the store.

    Not until recently have I been open and casual about my sexuality. I first started off by telling my closest friends, family, and then friends at work. I was very nervous at first but the response has been overwhelmingly great so far!

    Anyway, as I have become more open at work the responses have usually been the same: "You're GAY? Really? I would have just never have guessed because you don't act like it." I usually take the time right then and their to clear up common mis-conceptions about a gay guy. I can count all the gay guys who are open in this town on my finger, and they all have more feminine attitude. Let me start off by saying THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT, but that's typically how people generalize us it seems. My co-workers see me and are a bit puzzled. They don't understand why I don't fit into the typical gay stereotype and often question if I'm really gay or not. I really love it because I can explain to them why it's not a choice, I'm not doing it for attention, and I still love people no matter sexual orientation they are and they should too :-)

    Sorry, I think I'm ranting a little, but word has gotten out at work and some people who I didn't really care to find out did. It's not because I'm scared of who I am anymore, it's just that some people simply don't understand and it's like catching wind in a net to get them seeing from your perspective. I have gotten two guys who said they "don't want to deal with my queer talk" but are quickly coming around as they see I'm a normal, happy, guy who just happens to like other guys.

    In the end, I'm just pretty happy with things. I'm showing many people across my town that things aren't always as they seem, and people don't just come in one color (especially gay people with the rainbow symbol and all icon_razz.gif ). I've opened and changed many people's perspectives about gay people, and it's never made me happier. My goal was never to change anyone's mind, but rather to accept me. However, I've made new friends in the process and have gained overwhelming support from the unlikeliest of people.

    I hear people say that one person can't change anything. I hope one day people stop living with that mindset and start LIVING. One person can change many things, even if it seems small int he grand scheme of things. I hope one day I'm a living example of that and I won't stop until I am. You shouldn't either.

    Thanks for reading,

    Josh
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    Sep 24, 2012 6:35 AM GMT
    Man Josh, your posts are always awesome and really inspiring. If you can come out in a place like that, I can come out too. I'm giving myself a year to better myself before I do it, as long as I keep this positive energy about it up.

    Thanks for going through the trouble of typing that long piece out, but it was definitely worth reading!
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    Sep 24, 2012 6:40 AM GMT
    MarkRoger saidMan Josh, your posts are always awesome and really inspiring. If you can come out in a place like that, I can come out too. I'm giving myself a year to better myself before I do it, as long as I keep this positive energy about it up.

    Thanks for going through the trouble of typing that long piece out, but it was definitely worth reading!


    I'm in a situation now where a lot of difficulties are coming my way, but I won't let that stop me and I won't let that get me down. The people who will dislike me for something I can't help are in the minority and aren't worth the time or effort to deal with.

    Some of the other gay people in town have had there cars vandalized a lot, and I often fear that as nearly everyone knows where I work, but I can't live in fear. Living in fear is no way to live for anybody.

    You can do it, Mark! You rock, man! Everyone thinks coming out will be the end of things, but are pretty surprised to find it's the birth of great things.
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    Sep 24, 2012 6:48 AM GMT
    Well I don't think coming out will be the end of things, I know it will be when my life turns around for the better. It's just there's still a lot of work on me I have to consider before I can really be out and happy with myself.

    I know I can do it someday, but it'll happen for sure with such great insight from you man.
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    Sep 24, 2012 10:05 AM GMT
    Good for you!!! icon_smile.gif
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    Sep 24, 2012 1:26 PM GMT
    I completely agree. Keep up the good work!
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    Sep 24, 2012 2:13 PM GMT
    OP: A Positive Post indeed!

    Well done mate.. the old saying "winning their hearts and minds" is often in that order.. you've been the guy that smiled and helped them for all that time, its so much harder for them to 'dislike' you because you're gay.

    Many of my co-workers didn't realise I was gay until I started to refer to my boyfriend - and they had been exposed to sterotypical effeminate guys like your co-workers and thought that we were all like that.

    I'm not so certain folk are homophobes or racist even, just unsure of how to react around folk different to them, so they do what is often easiest and don't try to understand the differences and acknowledge the similarities..

    All tha best.
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    Sep 24, 2012 2:18 PM GMT
    Nice job Josh! I've often said that educating people, one person at a time, is the most effective. As people know you then they stop and think about you and the stereotype and begin to recognize that not everyone fits into that nice, neat, little feminine box.

    I think it brings people comfort to understand that there are gays that live their lives just like the guy down the street. Breaking down those stereotypical mindsets that are often re-enforced by television and media coverage is a very important aspect of moving society ahead in accepting people as who they are.

    You fit into their comfort zone, that makes it easier but more importantly is that getting them to be comfortable with understanding gays is the first step in them accepting those who are outside of their comfort zone too.

    Just think how many times they leave your store, chat with someone else and say, "Did you know he was gay? He seems so normal. I like him". Not exactly what we like to hear but it is a step in the right direction, their 'normal' becomes our acceptance.
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    Sep 24, 2012 2:28 PM GMT
    I have gay friends who chose to stay in small towns, and they are changing minds one person at a time. Those of us who have retreated to the safety and acceptance of cities owe guys like you a bit of thanks.
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    Sep 24, 2012 2:30 PM GMT
    I applaud your efforts there, Josh. I was like you at one point... but I won't sway you from your chosen path...just know that in time it will be harder to do, especially when you're outside familiar territory.
    But your endless kindness and wisdom even rekindle the hopes I've shelved...
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    Sep 24, 2012 2:34 PM GMT
    This is a wonderful and inspiring story. I wish more people were as brave as you are. Thanks for sharing X
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    Sep 24, 2012 2:39 PM GMT
    Josh, you are an awesome guy. And you write awesome posts. Hugs.
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    Sep 24, 2012 2:53 PM GMT
    Those who Stay/ Live/ make a life for themselves Outside of the 2 coasts probably do more for real change on this subject of sexuality then any of those in the " gayborhoods". Mostly due to the fact that " people in LA and NYC are exposed to ..... the gays..... and it does not phase them anymore, however those who are in say Anytown USA are only exposed to what they see as gay on TV and thus when they see that indeed gay can be a friend a neighbor a coworker a buddy down the street they realize that we are not some freakish lepers" icon_razz.gificon_biggrin.gif
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    Sep 24, 2012 3:03 PM GMT
    dude that is very true. Each person can make a impact on the people around them. And the more people who start making a difference the faster the word will spread and then huge change can come about. You rock dude. Your story gives me some inspiration to come out too.
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    Sep 24, 2012 3:20 PM GMT
    so good to hear. very brave. Good for you! I love it.
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    Sep 24, 2012 3:23 PM GMT
    You're a terrific man, Josh, keep doing what you're doing -- you're making a good difference!!
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    Sep 24, 2012 3:29 PM GMT
    Josh-

    You always have something positive to contribute and it is much appreciated. You are your own man, and have a good head on your shoulders. That is pretty rare with guys your age. Kudos to you!

  • HndsmKansan

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    Sep 24, 2012 3:30 PM GMT
    Glad to read your information and that you are working to make such a positive difference. Absolutely do your best to keep a positive attitude and if there is a negative event down the line, don't let it discolor your optimistic view of the world.. I try not to myself... we need more optimists in the world!

    Congrats, glad you took some time to give us some background and best wishes for all!

    icon_biggrin.gif
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    Sep 24, 2012 3:35 PM GMT
    Every time I read one of those "gay pride" threads, I always post the same thing....to live your life as you've just described. If everyone lived in this manner, we would already have equal rights. Fuck Pride parades and rainbow flags...when you live life like this, you don't need that stupid shit. Thanks for being a man and living your life as who you really are.
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    Sep 24, 2012 4:51 PM GMT
    Good goin', Josh! icon_smile.gif
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    Sep 24, 2012 5:13 PM GMT
    The anti gay zeitgeist has changed, is changing and will continue to change one person at a time. You have joined the ranks of the brave gay men and women who have come before you. It does not matter how you appear to other folks on the outside, as long as you have a good heart to show them and you can be honest with yourself. Bravo to all those out gay folks no matter where they are on the masculine/feminine spectrum.
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    Sep 24, 2012 5:35 PM GMT
    jprichva saidI'm not sure you can generalize from this, Josh.
    'Cause here's the thing: people are going to love you---straight or gay---because you are a delightful, happy, positive, energetic, sweetheart of a li'l muffin. So it isn't about gay or straight, it's about you.


    Hear hear. icon_biggrin.gif *Raises a glass*
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    Sep 24, 2012 6:05 PM GMT
    jprichva saidI'm not sure you can generalize from this, Josh.
    'Cause here's the thing: people are going to love you---straight or gay---because you are a delightful, happy, positive, energetic, sweetheart of a li'l muffin. So it isn't about gay or straight, it's about you.


    I tend to agree with this though hopefully also, and probably even, they will make the association.

    As admirable as I can see this is, I'm also a worrier and though you seem to recognize risk, Josh, I can't help but to remember your story about being chased that time. So I do hope that you will not make a spectacle of yourself but rather that in sharing yourself with others that you remain cautious.

    I am sorry to bring that up and I'd hate to think I was jinxing anything but I was just so conflicted in reading this that I couldn't comment on your bravery without noting the danger.

    You've already had it rough enough. I would hate for anything bad to ever happen to you.
  • TroyAthlete

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    Sep 24, 2012 6:47 PM GMT
    Scruffypup saidEvery time I read one of those "gay pride" threads, I always post the same thing....to live your life as you've just described. If everyone lived in this manner, we would already have equal rights. Fuck Pride parades and rainbow flags...when you live life like this, you don't need that stupid shit. Thanks for being a man and living your life as who you really are.


    The village idiot, bringing the negativity and making it about himself, as usual. Pride parades and rainbow flags have accomplished more for the cause of freedom and equality that self-aggrandizing pity-partiers like Scruffypup ever have.

    Congratulations, Josh, for being positive and giving. Well played.
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    Sep 24, 2012 6:58 PM GMT
    theantijock said
    jprichva saidI'm not sure you can generalize from this, Josh.
    'Cause here's the thing: people are going to love you---straight or gay---because you are a delightful, happy, positive, energetic, sweetheart of a li'l muffin. So it isn't about gay or straight, it's about you.


    I tend to agree with this though hopefully also, and probably even, they will make the association.

    As admirable as I can see this is, I'm also a worrier and though you seem to recognize risk, Josh, I can't help but to remember your story about being chased that time. So I do hope that you will not make a spectacle of yourself but rather that in sharing yourself with others that you remain cautious.

    I am sorry to bring that up and I'd hate to think I was jinxing anything but I was just so conflicted in reading this that I couldn't comment on your bravery without noting the danger.

    You've already had it rough enough. I would hate for anything bad to ever happen to you.


    Thanks a lot for your concern, AntiJock. It's important to note the only reason I was getting jumped a while back was because I opened my mouth when I should have let something go. Your concerns are certainly rational though and I'll always be aware!

    And JP thank you icon_smile.gif