From such far-flung locales as Chechnya and Syria, places which barely register on our collective consciousnesses, come horrifying stories about what is happening to their LGBT communities. In the former Soviet republic, gay men are being systematically purged from society through torture and murder. In the deserts of Biblical Syria, the sinister ISIS terror organization is rounding up gay men and putting them to death in ways so hideous, they defy description in civilized terms. As the march of hatred continues, seemingly unabated, here at home and around the world, there is curiously little outcry from the American LGBT community on these atrocities. Yes, to be sure, we face our own perils, as recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, make manifestly clear. The deadly expressions of bigotry and homophobia on small-town America’s streets, awful as they really are, are made terrifyingly larger in countries where the doctrine of eradication is Holy Writ.
'There are journeys, and there are journeys that become legends.'
I was just 15 years old when I met Les Brown. The world-renowned professional motivational speaker, best selling author, and television personality saw me in a room full of people. Not by chance, but because I, a minute black boy with big ears and curly brown hair was courageous enough to pursue is attention gracefully. When I was able to hold Mr. Brown attention long enough, I conveyed to him that I wanted to be able to speak with greatness like him and was hungry to live my dreams although I wasn’t entirely sure what they were. At the time I was a youth minister at a modest church in the quaint city of Indianapolis, who was outspoken in my public high school and in my conservative community.
Les Brown became a chosen father to me all of my teenage years, he mentored me out of the limiting negative mindset that I had been conditioned to believe and live my life based on. He shifted my perspective about my gifts, talents, and abilities and enlarged my vision of myself. He saw a special something within me that I wasn't able to see in myself. All of this because of one question he posed to me at 15, "What if you live your whole life and at the end of it you realized that it was all wrong?" This query shook me free because I was living my life based on what other folks believed to be right and I was prepared to dedicate my existence to their convictions, whether or not they resonated with me.
I was 21 when I organized a meeting with Maya Angelou.