Hundreds of queer people shared a snippet of their lives, via a photo, for last Wednesday's Day in LGBT. We saw people at work, at home, on the dancefloor. We asked our own editors and writers to expound on their Day in LGBT images and tell us a short story about their day. Here are their tales:
Cleis Abeni, Baltimore, 4:01 a.m.
"Are you there?" she asked over the phone. I wasn't really entirely there. After all, it was 4 in the morning on "hump day" in the middle of the week. But this was "Ollie," a friend who called to tell me that she was in the hospital with another friend, "Pearl," who would likely pass away any day now, any minute, and Pearl wanted to hear me sing one more time. So Ollie put the phone to Pearl's ear and I sang "It Is Well With My Soul" softly to her, the reception cracking, knowing that she was listening intently just like the old days.
I still don't know what people truly mean when they say that the AIDS epidemic has abated. It certainly hasn't for low-income people of color. For most of my ever-dwindling peers, getting access to quality care remains an ongoing problem. For those like my friend, who has struggled with HIV for more than 25 years while being on and off regular health care, the journey through the maelstrom is always fraught with peril. Each week I find myself wondering when another person will die in my life -- and this week is no different. Without exaggeration, I lose at least five people a year. It's been that way since the '80s. In the '90s, I lost scores each year. Sometimes it's just not well with our souls no matter what they say, no matter what new drugs are trumpeted. It's going to be a long week yet again, and I have an hour and a half journey ahead of me today to another job. Being queer seems revolutionary sometimes, but it also aches too. This week I'll be queer for Christmas if only in a dream.
Diane Anderson-Minshall, Valle Vista, Calif., 3:03 a.m.
I wake up super early to get work on our orchard done before my day job starts, and long before everyone is calling and texting and tweeting me. This is how I wake up almost every day, wrapped around my little chihuahua Roger, which has become a long-standing joke in my marriage (as is oft-repeated joke that some day my spouse will wake up and Roger's face will have replaced Jake's in all our wedding photos).
But Roger is my little emotional support puppy, so he helps motivate me to keep going and even when he's being a rascal (he still loves to hide shoes, steal socks, and eat important paperwork next to Mommy's desk) he makes me smile.
Jase Peeples, Los Angeles, 8:05 a.m.
Driving to work this morning, I decided to kill my commute by blasting my latest freshly minted Christmas music playlist. It was a chilly morning (by Los Angeles standards), in the low 60s, so I had my heater on and at some point cracked my windows. Along the way, I lost myself in several of my favorite upbeat holiday pop tracks, such as "My Only Wish (This Year)" by Britney Spears, "Santa Baby" by Madonna, and the super-gay "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Kylie Minogue. By the time Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" started streaming through the speakers of my bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle, I was in full Christmas queen mode, howling along with the song like a wounded reindeer. It was only after I had been stopped at a traffic light, bopping along with added hand choreography, that I noticed a gray-haired woman in a silver Honda Accord in the lane next to mine, intensely staring at me. That's when I remembered my window was cracked and realized she'd been listening to me butcher the track for several seconds. I felt my face turn seven shades of red, but I decided, what the hell, I already look like flaming fool. So I rolled down the window further, plastered a toothy, open-mouthed smile across my face, gestured to the woman in the Accord, as I sang along, "All I want for Christmas it Yooooooou!" The light turned green and we both cracked up laughing as we drove away.
Christopher Harrity, Los Angeles, 9:14 a.m.
I grew up in the dark ages of homosexuality. Blackmail, electroshock treatments, and suicide were fairly normal. Now I work as a Web producer at The Advocate. It hardly seems possible that cultural attitudes about LGBT people can change this much in one lifetime. So to be working all day on our Day in LGBT postings still has a feel of the fantastic. Today I saw blackmail replaced by photos of gay grandparents with their kids. I saw electric shock treatments replaced by pictures of the staff at the Trevor Project. I saw suicide replaced by an adorable picture of a young trans teen girl eating breakfast that her proud mom made for her.
Femi Redwood, New York City, 9:31 a.m.
As LGBTQ people, we have to "come out" all the time, not just once or twice.
While interviewing a veterinarian for a story I was covering about an abused dog (I'm a TV news reporter), I inadvertently came out to her off-camera when I brought up my girlfriend's cat. We all know the anxiety of coming out. It may be a small negative sensation or a full-blown conversation with yourself in your head that goes like this: Will she clam up and, if she does, will that somehow carry over into the on-camera interview? Will she smile because she is also LGBTQ? Or will she simply not care?
LGBTQ people come out over and over. You come out to your coworker when he asks if you have a boyfriend. You come out to your hairdresser when she overhears your cell phone conversation. You come out to the post office clerk when you tell him your girlfriend will be home to accept your package.
I often question if I should come out during random, casual conversations with people I meet on the job. Did I really need the veterinarian, who I will probably never see again, to know one of my cats is really my girlfriend's? The answer is: Yes. It's important that we make ourselves visible. So despite the discomfort or the possibility of a botched interview, I will not avoid outing myself in these situations. I will never hide who I am. Because who knows? Maybe that one person is the person who needs the tiniest bit of encouragement to tell their own truth.
Josh Sabarra, Los Angeles, 11:17 a.m.
On December 9, I completed a chapter of my forthcoming second book. As it happened, in the novel's pages, I described a pivotal character whose rocky transition into adulthood was complicated by several "nontraditional" attributes.
When asked to consider The Advocate's #DayInLGBT, I reflected upon my own struggle with sexuality and the self-esteem issues that trailed me relentlessly through the years. I considered my journey -- the potholes, the strides, the setbacks, the triumphs -- and how, at 40, I finally felt like me for the first time. It took nearly four decades to get there.
I gave even more thought, though, to the idea that I live in Los Angeles, a city wherein I am not made to feel different each day because of my sexual inclinations. Sure, there are trials and tribulations, as there are for anyone else, anywhere else, racing through life, but those challenges are not related to my sexuality or the gender of my romantic partners. My outlook doesn't at all discount the hardships that LGBT individuals encounter and endure, but rather speaks to my current reality.
I will always take pride in my "becoming" -- which continues daily, as I am a work in progress -- and I look forward to watching the world evolve, as it, too, is a work in progress. What will make me most proud, however, is when the #DayInLGBT becomes, simply, a #Day ... for every human being, from every kind of background, no matter what personal battle he/she may be fighting.
Dawn Ennis, Los Angeles, 1:25 p.m.
Today I wrote stories that tell the darker side of being LGBT today: How ISIS hanged a trans woman by her breasts because she is who she is ... How the Obama administration is willing to make LGBT refugees from Syria a priority but stopped short of calling it a quota system ... How lesbian and even interracial couples in North Carolina have to sue the state in federal court, because even in the face of the Supreme Court's ruling on marriage equality, judges are legally allowed to opt out of weddings that offend their religious sensibilities. Those same judges are happy to accept health benefits and retirement benefits that are in part funded by the federal government. The lawyers suing say North Carolina is violating the Constitution ...
And that's part of how I spent my #DayInLGBT.
Hannah Simpson, New York City, 1:57 p.m.
This Hannukah and for the past few years, I've taught adults and children to construct their own electric menorahs for observing our eight-night Jewish festival of light. Integrating science and engineering into religion isn't to expose smoke and mirrors behind God's miracles, but rather to discover even more miracles happening around us every single day. I happen to be a transgender woman of faith who teaches kids to build electronics projects that I designed. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education is a much more productive use of my time than justifying which restrooms I belong in, so please don't ask or tell me anymore. Thanks, and have a happy Hannukah!
Neal Broverman, Los Angeles, 7:11 p.m.
I'm headed to a Christmas party at Los Angeles magazine, running late as usual. My boyfriend is waiting for me at the event, in the lobby of a skyscraper on Wilshire Boulevard. I'm walking briskly down the quiet sidewalk, which is alternately blocked off and torn up for subway construction. Crossing Fairfax Avenue, I look up at a newly renovated car museum, lit up bright red and appearing like a big lava flow frozen in time; I make a mental note to take a picture there later. I pass a woman in high heels and fake fur exiting a car gracefully, then two made-up 20-something ladies laughing through the cold. Climbing the stairs to the lobby, I push through the open doors. There is music and people and drinks balanced on trays. Heading to the sign-in table, our coordinated meet-up space, I look for my boyfriend. There he is.
Daniel Reynolds, Los Angeles, 10:34 p.m.
On this year's Day in LGBT, my boyfriend invited me to the holiday party for his company, Authentic Talent and Literary Management. There, I had the pleasure of meeting two actors I had long admired. The first, Gigi Edgley, was one of the stars of the science fiction show Farscape and one of The Advocate's 39 Sci-Fi Divas Gays Adore. I shared with her my adoration for her and the cult classic, and how its story of outcasts in space helped me bond with a fellow LGBT friend in high school. The second actor I met was Matt McGorry, one of the stars of ABC's How to Get Away With Murder and Netflix's Orange Is the New Black. We had a conversation about what it means to be an ally, and how his social media posts on behalf of LGBT community, women, and the Black Lives Matter movement can serve as a wonderful example as to how straight, white cisgender men in Hollywood can use their visibility for good. Overall, it was a lovely and surprising way to begin the good cheer of the holiday season.