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Hitting the town with Benny: Communities that rally together grow together

It was most emotional to see our community come together this past Tuesday at the San Diego Remembers Matthew Shepard Rally & Vigil.

Over 400 people turned out for the candle-lit procession and ceremony, to stand up against all forms of hate, bullying and harassment. It is in these moments that I am proud to be a part of the GLBT community and proud to be me.

But earlier that morning, I had gone to see the doctor for a routine check-up. My handsome, middle-aged, (I’m assuming) gay doctor went over my vitals with me: “blood pressure - excellent; cholesterol - very good; temperature - 97.8 degrees, which is fine … and, oh … I see you’ve gained a few pounds … but … well, that’s ok.”

He smirked as the word “gained” and “pounds” came out of his attractive lips and I was certain he was judging me. It sometimes feels like we live in this gay-on-gay world, constantly trying to out-do or belittle each other.

While I am pretty sure now that my sexy doc was in no way looking down on my added poundage (maybe its muscle mass?) … he is a medical professional, after all … it made me think about how us gays often add pressure to our already over-burdened psyche’s with the body-image expectations we place on each other.

By no means is this stress anywhere near some of the trauma that many of our youth are facing in schools and amongst their peers. Some of our own GLBT youth encounter a daily nightmare of harassment, taunting and hatred. They are called names, spit on, attacked, and worse.

I thought about how easy it is for me to be gay today and how little my concern about gaining four pounds is in the grand scheme of things.

But even as adults, we are not always kind to each other, nor do we look out for each other nearly enough. It is important that we learn to be comfortable in our skin, not worry about looking like clones of the ridiculously unreal images we see in magazines, take care of ourselves and take care of our youth.

As a community, it is vital that we treat each other as family and neighbors … even if we do not live near each other. As the GLBT community continues its struggle for equality, we continue to see that we are our only ally!

Please continue to attend rallies, vigils and events and fight for us!

Friday, October 15

Manis, Martini’s & Massage: House.Boi will host a fundraiser for AIDS Life Cycle 2011. Frank Walt and Michael Case have partnered with House.Boi owner Ari Claire to raise funds for Walt and Case’s 545-mile ride down the California Coast in June. Guests will be treated to complimentary manicures, SVEDKA martinis, and massages! The event is from 6-9 p.m. and Claire will donate 20% of all sales to AIDS Life Cycle … I’m toying with the idea of doing AIDS Life Cycle next year … should I? To learn more click here.

Another great fundraiser happening tonight called Equality Rocks!, that will benefit the group termed "The Equality 9." This was the group of nine protestors who were arrested on August 19 for fighting for civil rights. The group simply wanted their same-sex friends to be able to get married at the San Diego County Administration Building. The San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality will host the benefit at Bamboo Lounge, just steps from House.Boi, in case you want to hit up both events. To learn more click here.

Saturday, October 16

If you are an Aztec or an Aztec fan, don’t miss San Diego State University’s Homecoming Football game against Air Force at 5 p.m., at Qualcomm Stadium. While there, you can also check out SDSU’s Homecoming Court and see who takes the crown. Us gays love crowns, tiaras and pageantry so this will definitely be the place to get it. Visit www.goaztecs.com for tickets or more information.

Sunday, October 17

Enough is enough! We can not let another one of our children die as a result of being bullied, harassed or taunted. It is our responsibility to stand up for them when no one else will. It breaks my heart every time I read a story of harassment or suicide. I hope to see you at the rally this Sunday from 6-7 p.m. in front of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education. Together, we will mourn the loss of the youth who have taken their lives and dedicate ourselves to ensuring safety for all students. You’re lucky: The Board of Education building is in Hillcrest - so you don’t have far to travel.

Wednesday, October 20

As we approach Halloween, FilmOut San Diego will screen the classic Stephen King film “Carrie” on the big screen at the Birch North Park Theater as part of their monthly series. This isn't the silly remake, this is the original, starring Sissy Spacek, William Katt, John Travolta and Piper Laurie. There is no better way to watch movies like this than on a big screen with 200 of your closest gays. Tickets are just $10 and can be purchased at the FilmOut website.

San Diego’s Metropolitan Community Church will also be responding to the recent rash of GLBT teen suicides with a special “Service of Prayer & Remembrance.” The event will begin at 7 p.m. and everyone is welcome. This will be a great way to mourn these losses and come together in a spiritual community. For more information, click here.

Finally, can you believe that SDGLN is about to hit one year? Time has flown by and we are excited to celebrate this amazing milestone! We are throwing a special party next Friday night to celebrate and want you to join us. Read all about this and be sure to RSVP. Everyone MUST RSVP – there are absolutely no exceptions … Thanks for your continued support of SDGLN!

Remember how important it is to stand up for our youth. Please consider attending some of the community events this week to support them.

Benny Cartwright is a staff writer with SDGLN who focuses on non-profits, politics, and higher education. Also known as "Mr. Pride," he regularly informs our readers about the various Pride celebrations happening throughout California (and Tijuana). Benny also writes a social column, giving a more in-depth look at his sometimes fabulous, sometimes crazy, but always eventful, life. He has written for a number of local publications over the years, starting with San Diego’s Update! newspaper in 2005. Benny is also involved with numerous community organizations, goes to grad school, and even has a "day job" – he’s one busy guy!