|I’m proud of being gay and I’m proud of you|
This blog by Joe Lazzerini, Mr. Gay Rhode Island 2012, was written as part of our "Celebrating Pride" series for June.
Happy Gay Pride month! On June 1st 2009 President Barack Obama issued a presidential proclamation recognizing June as the official month to celebrate the LGBTQ community. This month is all about celebrating who we’re as a community and the fights that we need to continue in order to be fully equal in this diverse yet unequal society.
Let me take a moment to introduce myself – I am Joseph Lazzerini and I am Mr. Gay Rhode Island 2012. I am 21, a political activist and a fighter for all things equal. This month is about self-expression and being proud about being who you’re as an individual and celebrating the contributions that you’ve made to your community. It’s also about celebrating your victories.
At a young age I realized that I was gay. However, it wasn’t until I was joining the United States Army did I realize what being gay really met. It meant I wasn’t allowed to serve my country. As I read through paperwork about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” it came to me that I was in fact gay and that I was about to sign away my right to talk about it. I signed anyways. It took me nearly 18 years to come to terms with my sexual identity and comfortable enough to come out of the closet and express to my family and friends that I am a gay man. My friends were supportive right away – some of my family was also. However, my mom and step father were not so supportive at first. I moved out of the house and got my own apartment. And thankfully today Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is no longer the law of the land and being gay is no longer a rejection to serving your country for me or anyone in our community.
My senior year of high school I wound up working 40 hours a week and went to school and I graduated my senior year. After several months my parents came around and just a few months ago my mother was in the room as I was crowned Mr. Gay Rhode Island and she was also there with me as I sat in the Governor’s chambers and watched him sign the Executive order recognizing out of state same sex marriages.
This month – I am proud that we have a President and Vice President that support marriage equality for same sex couples and that we live in a country that does not deny people of the gay and lesbian community the right to serve their nations in the Armed services or deny members of the LGBTQ community the right to visit their partners in the hospital.
In Rhode Island – Marriage Equality is not legal; however, same sex marriages are recognized here so gay marriages from our sister states like my home state – Massachusetts are recognized in the Ocean state. There is a fight here that will continue and the message will change and we will win the votes we need to provide all the same rights to the LGBTQ community of our state.
Proud…Proud….Proud….. I’m proud of being gay and I’m proud of you. The message I’m trying to get across is that being gay is something to be proud of not something to be ashamed of. It’s something to celebrate and be open about.
Rhode Island Pride’s mission is to create opportunities for integrating and promoting visibility for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community. We also work to promote equal rights and diversity through public education and the arts. Providing safe opportunities and venues for people to come out and express and celebrate their sexual identities is what Pride is all about.
Be yourself. Love your life. Live your Life and Love yourself because we all deserve happiness.
if you’d like and follow me on twitter @JoeLazzerini.