Q: Tell us about your time at smyal:
A: Around 25 years ago I saw an ad in the Washington Post Weekend section for SMYAL. Having just come out to my good friend Laurie, and in return her coming out to me, we thought we should go check out this support group. Both of us were still very much in the closet, both of us were terrified! We walked into the gay community center on a Saturday morning and our lives were changed forever. We walked in holding hands pretending to be boyfriend and girlfriend just to “see what’s going on.” The counselor Bob saw right through our charade and invited us to join the circle. We did. Within ten minutes we were no longer holding hands and we found ourselves coming out to these new friends and strangers and we never looked back. It is not an understatement to say that day changed my life forever! Once I went to that meeting, within 15 minutes my whole life changed— radically just changed. The acceptance, the freedom I felt —I guess the camaraderie was what I felt. I never looked back. It was a springboard for me, for everything—for my music, for activism, for being ok with myself. And I would imagine if I didn’t find SMYAL I would’ve eventually gotten there, but I can’t imagine any scenario where it would’ve happened so quickly.
“SMYAL IS COMMUNITY. THAT’S THE FIRST WORD THAT COMES TO MIND. SMYAL IS FRIENDS. SMYAL IS FUN. SMYAL WAS MY WORLD FOR THOSE YEARS.”
Q: Where are you now?
A: Both Laurie and I are married now. I am a performing singer/songwriter with six recordings under my belt and my seventh CD due out at the end of the year. I have written songs about coming out and issues of bullying in schools among many other topics. Twenty five years ago I couldn’t have imagined that one day I would be legally married to a same-sex spouse and playing music for a living. SMYAL is responsible for this in so many ways.
Q: What advice would you give current smyal youth?
A: It’s easier said than done, but you are okay the way you are. That doesn’t necessarily mean being gay, or lesbian, or transgender—it’s just okay to be who you are. If you don’t want to play sports, you don’t have to play sports, and that’s okay. You are okay, whoever you are.