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#DayInLGBT Is a Chance to Tell Our Own Stories


Don't let America live in an alternate reality. Share a photo using hashtag #DayInLGBT.

Seeking representation in any form of media can be like using a broken mirror. You can see yourself, but only from the right angle.

We reminisce often at The Advocate about how much things have changed since the days when we had to relate as queer people to straight characters on-screen. The experiences of the weirdo or bullied kid as outsiders were once a close-enough version to our real lives -- a stretch which only reiterated our place at the margins.

Some things seem so obvious: We need to tell our own stories. Don't expect the straight people to do it for us.

But in Hollywood and in politics, that's not been easy. The Advocatenamed Moonlight a finalist for Person of the Year, even though it's a movie, because it represented so many people. Moonlight received an impressive six Golden Globe nominations Monday, adding some refreshing recognition to the representation black gay men already felt. We see you, Hollywood said.

Moonlight is, in some ways, a gay coming-of-age story like the many before it. But you've never seen this movie because the story hasn't been told before from the viewpoint of a black man, at least not so authentically and with such exceptional filmmaking.

Telling our own stories and being fully ourselves make us an example to each other -- but also to the straight world that is sometimes told to fear us. The bogeyman in North Carolina these days has been transgender people trying to use the bathroom. Or, in Indiana, it was the mythically tyrannical same-sex couple who demand a wedding cake. Those are the stories being told about us by the right wing.

This past month included that moving moment when Ellen DeGeneres -- who had come out in the 1990s only to lose her TV show -- was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for entertaining all of us by being herself. Her tears as President Obama put that medal around her neck were an ultimate vindication, or the perfect Hollywood ending.

The point Ellen DeGeneres makes is that yes, you can be welcomed into the homes of millions of women watching daytime TV and still be a lesbian. In fact, the more they get to know Ellen, the more America gets to know all of us.

If anything, in the age of Trump, I wish we had more people like Ellen, who break through the constant divide. What Trump does insidiously is to dehumanize. Immigrants are to Trump like an unseen force, and Muslims are a collective terror. They're not individuals, not in Trump's politics.

The Khan family told their story, and it was one of those precious few moments that seemed to put the Trump campaign on defense. You can't demagogue Muslims when someone has a mother and a father who love them. You can't look someone in the eye and still say they're the faceless evil putting the country in jeopardy. Trump wants us to look away from each other.

All of this exposition is a long winded way of saying how important it is to take part in the annual #DayInLGBT project, held all day on social media wherever the time zone says December 13. The Advocate has hosted this moment for years, always asking LGBT people to please show the everyday moments from their lives in selfies and video, because it's important to insist we be seen.

It's important to each other, especially to the kids who we forget still need to hear "it gets better" or "you're not alone." And it's important in debasing the fake news version of reality so we can one day all live in the same America.

LUCAS GRINDLEY is editor in chief of The Advocate. Contact him @lucasgrindley on Twitter or via his page on Facebook. Read his previous columns for The Advocate.

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