World Gay Pride Day 2019

I don't decorate because I am gay.
But, being gay has taught me how to decorate.

I am connected to my brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community
by a foundation of fear,
and shame,
and rejection.
We grew up differently.
We didn't feel safe.

And now I cover my fear
in drag,
or music,
or fashion,
or design,
....I cover it in beauty.

To hide the bruises,
or just move past them.

But I am not here to entertain you (unless I want to).
Beauty is how I choose to survive.
To combat all of the ugliness that I have seen.

My uncle died of AIDS in 1988.
He was a part of the first wave of the silent epidemic.
I live with that shame.
It wasn't accepted then.
There was no help.
We took it upon ourselves to find a cure.
Read everything.
Called everyone.
We believed in fairytales

We went to Chinatown in San Francisco,
to buy Shark Cartilage.
We had heard it would act as an antidote to the virus.
It wasn’t.

Nothing we could do would make the disease go away.
And when when fairytales stopped working.....
we painted.
We couldn’t control the virus or society or medicine,
but we could make my Uncle more comfortable.

We redecorated his small apartment in Sausalito
to make him feel better.
To make us feel better.
I knew the cost of being gay from a very young age
... and also learned how to decorate.

My Uncle was not there for me when I came out.
I had no guidance about what it meant to be gay
because we lost a generation
to an epidemic
that was ignored
because it affected homosexuals.

So for a new generation,
I will be your Uncle.
I will fight for you,
and be here for you,
and never stop,
until you are heard,
and respected,
and thriving.

This fight isn’t over.
It just looks different now.
We still don't have the same rights.
Cannot donate blood to the blood bank.

We think things have changed.
They haven't.

On this World Gay Pride Day,
let’s take this celebration out of our homes
and show everyone
how to make the world more beautiful.
To celebrate our spirit.
To show who we are.
To show that we will not stop.

I don't decorate because I am gay.
But, being gay has taught me how to decorate.

 
My Uncle, Ron. Shot in New York City by Jean Kallina,.

My Uncle, Ron. Shot in New York City by Jean Kallina,.

 
Photo of me 2019. In remembrance of Ron…And those that came before me.

Photo of me 2019. In remembrance of Ron…And those that came before me.

Jon Call