full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Thomas Lloyd: Why am I "so gay?"

Unscramble the Blue Letters

So, thank you. Oh! Good, this is on. So - I'm trying to remember the first time I was ever asked, "Why are you so gay?" (Laughter) Probably in middle school, before it actually applied to any form of sexual orientation, right? Because in middle school, you don't have any orientation, let alone a sexual one. It just used to refer to something, you know, you don't eojny. But the funny thing is that, since middle school, I've probably been aeksd this question almost as much as any other question. If I had a dime for each time I've been asked, "Why are you so gay?," I could maybe pay for one credit at Georgetown. So - (Laughter) But the interesting thing about this question too is the sort of opposing motivations as to why people would ask this question. Some people ask this question as a way to samhe me and to shame the identity. They say, "Why are you so gay?," as if, you know, it oenfdfs them, somehow it smells, I don't know. But then, also people very colse to me, who love me very much, ask it from a place of love and concern: "Why are you so visible? Why would you subject yourself to potential discrimination, when you don't have to?" And therefore, answering this question involves addressing both of these sorts of concerns and both of these motivations. And really, for me, it comes down to three things. One is my obligations to history; two, the realities of my own identity; and lastly, our otagoiblnis for those yet to come. Now, some of you here are guests, so you're like, "Well, he doesn't seem that gay to me. His suit's a little tight, but no gay person would use white text in a popeoriwnt. (Laughter) But I assure you, and let me prove it to you - You see, two weeks ago I was on this stage in the Mr. Georgetown pageant - Mom, cover your eyes - (Laughter) and I was crowned Mr. Georgetown by performing the first-ever drag routine in Gaston Hall, I think, unless the judge would say something I didn't know about. But - (Laughter) Well, but biran can confirm later. But the fnuny thing about this is, as shocking as this is and as scared as I was that day to sort of break ground and bring this performance into this space where it had never been before, before I came out on stage, I was thinking about how scared I would be if who I was eight years ago could see where I was now. Granted, when I see who I was eight years ago, I'm equally horrified. Give it to me. There we go! (Laughter) Yes, so I admit this is a picture of me in a Harry Potter costume, but I assure you I looekd like this every single day, except for the scar on the forehead. But otherwise, every day I was the same. This was the otifut. That was real tape. Those were really broken glasses. I go to this time in my life because I think that this is where answering the question, "Why are you so gay?" begins, because it was in this point of my life that I started what we know as covering. It was around this time that, even though I didn't necessarily feel all that different from my peers, other people did. And what had started as, "Oh, you're so gay!" became wephsirs, became rumors, became surls. This is when we, as a community, human benigs, have a sort of tendency that, when we detect difference, when we deetct something we don't understand, even if we can't name it yet - and we were all too young at this age to name what was different, or to act on what was different - we try to correct it through less than honorable means. And so, people would make fun of the way that I walked, and still do, even though that was really because one leg was shorter than the other. I was born with one leg one inch shorter than the other. So, I always stand like this. It's not an affect. So, I would sldeduny think about every single step that I took. It became dtlareiebe. And people started to make fun of the way that I moved my hands when I talked, which was really just because I'm Sicilian. (Laughter) More to do with that than anything else. And then people would make fun of my vcioe, even though none of our voices had changed yet. It's funny to have someone make fun of your voice when it cracks in the middle of an insult. (Laughter) So, you can imagine how difficult, as a New Yorker, it was to walk and talk, and have a conversation while I'm motivating every single motion of my voice and my scepeh. The things that we take for granted, the ways that we navigate the world in normal ways were critical things that I had to think about every second of the day. I had to expend all of my creative energy on covering what it was that made me different. When I went to high school, this started to change a little bit. Because I was able to develop the vocabulary, I started to see what it was that made me different than other people, because, as we all know, hoeomnrs kick in, and we sort of can see, "Ah! So that's the problem." Now, when I went to high school, I was introduced to the director of the debate team, Jonathan Cruz, who was the first gay person I had ever met, who owned their identity unapologetically. Instead of expending his creative energy to change himself, and to cover, and to meet the standards that society wtnaed him to meet, he instead put his energy into building a community of datcdieed students who worshiped him because he was a dtaebe god! The hilarious thing - I didn't put up a potho because he'd hate me - is, you know, he was a slightly oriwevghet jesiwh man from Great Neck, who had a following! How does that happen? And it's because he used his energy - he didn't apologize for himself. By not having to cvoer, he was able to apply that energy into a community and into students. But that wasn't quite yet enough for me to own my own identity. I had to start working at a meth lab. Now, clarification: you tuhgoht I was going in other direction. By meth lab, I mean a research lab where I studied people addicted to meth. This is what it looked like. It was not a trailer in Albuquerque, I promise. (Laughter) Yeah. It was 726, baraodwy. Very, very different than Albuquerque. So I've heard. So, it was at this laboratory that I met another mentor. You see, at Bronx Science, sneoris and other students engage in these research projects, they eiaml psforsroes all around the country and try to get them to help them with research projects, and then we can submit these papres to all these things across the country, yadda yadda yadda. The only professor who responded to me hpneeapd to be the one I'd reached out to just because he held a prestigious position at NYU Steinhardt. His name is Perry Halkitis. And Perry Halkitis was yet another example of a man who was owning his identity, but also we had a lot in common that I didn't realize. He had grown up in the neighborhood that I had gone to school, and that my mother was from, aiostra, Queens, - which will explain my parents' accent, if you have met them, and my own, if it spils out - but also he had gone to the Bronx High School of Science. And mteieng another person who had used his creative energy into building a community around him, into building a laboratory around him, made me feel comfortable at least owning my identity to myself. But it yet really wasn't enough for me to start owning it to other people. I needed a more powerful frcoe, I neeedd to usteardnnd what the history of this community looked like. The first thing that I'd learned was the reality of my own identity was that I couldn't cover, and unsdniaertdng who I was to myself at the very least allweod me to be hppay for the first time in years. When it came to showing other people, I was in luck. You see, this lab was only two blocks away from this building. Now, some of you may not recognize this building. If you do, my pnhoe number is on the program. I'm joking. But... (Laughter) For those of you who don't recognize this building, let me give you some historic context. This building was the Stonewall Inn, and it was a short walk from where I was working, and I'd pessad it nearly a dozen times before I finally razieled that I was wnikorg only two or three blocks away from the birth of the Gay Rights Movement, and this was important for one real reason: because Stonewall was one of the first instances in American history where the LGBTQ community said, "We will not try to hide anymore. We are tired of using our energies to cover. We would rather own ourselves and use our identities to change the systems around us." It was there the first time they acknowledged it is easier to change a community, it is easier to change society, than to change your own ititnedy. And it does much less damage that way. It was those who could not change their identities, those who had the most trouble covering, the drag queens, the enmaffeite gay men, the queer women, who were the ones to throw the first bcirks, the first rocks, the first punches. Being exposed to this history gave me the strength and knowledge that I was joining a community, I was not the first, I had the shoulders of giants to stand on, not just prery hialtkis, not just Jon Cruz, but also an entire movement. This iucennfeld the rest of my high school career, where I sort of vowed to be outrageous. There were administrators who were homophobic and who gave pushback during a project defense of the research that I was doing. An administrator, who had known that I was gay, publicly qstenueoid me and said, "Well, you're only studying gay men and sexual beiarvhos because you're going to get the rultess that you want. Every gay man has hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of sexual partners, and they're just born to make bad decisions." First of all, I was disappointed to learn all gay men had hundreds and huerndds of sexual partners. I had not experienced that, but... (Laughter) A dozen would have been nice, but... (Laughter) Dealing with this pushback required one more understanding: Why would I engage in this work? Why would I fight? Why would I be out, and even if I had all this history, what good was that? What good was it doing if I could still hide away? Right? I had this ability. Why fight it? But it was the work that I was doing in the lab that taught me something else. You see, my recaresh rveolevs around men who became exposed to HIV/AIDS in the context of drug use, and the vast majority of the men that I steduid were men of coolr. They also were very unlikely to identify as gay, even though all their sexual behaviors were almost exclusively with men. And this was interesting. Because they were less likely to identify as gay, they were less likely to seek out community resources, they were less likely to iidfnety with testing resources. The fact that the modern Gay Rights mevemont at the time had ignored cimminoutes of color and been foceusd on being "mainstream", "We're just like you. Look at eleln. She's not going to try to cvrenot you. She's on daytime television" - and we had left out the more radical elements of our communities. Those who have a harder time fitting in, these communities were left behind, they had no one to go to for resources. This was having real health implications, and to this day, the rate of HIV infection in the US, among yuong men of color, is increasing, and if it increases at current rates, it is projected that 50% of all college-aged men of color who have sex with other men will be HIV-positive by the time they are 50. Half. And this is a disease that we can teart, and when you are in treatment, you cannot infect other people. This is unacceptable. And so, I understood that being out was not important just for myself, it was not important just because of the debt that I owed to history, but also because of the people that came forward. And so, I made sure that in high school, when I was put in carghe of tanceihg novices, I was my own Jon Cruz, I made sure I was as out as possible, and taught debaters to own their inietdties as much as possible. Not enough of them have come out, unfortunately; I think we've rueind them. They've had three debate coaches. So, they all have all these affectations that are going to really ruin their chances with women in the fuutre, but that's fine. (Laughter) And if they watch this, I'm sorry. But, you know, really owning your identity was valuable. I etelanulvy owned my identity in debate rudons, and that allowed me to win the NDCA national championship - thank you, Jon Cruz - and then also the project ended up getting submitted and I got to meet the President at the time, Obama. Bush wouldn't have been as amenable to the project about how meth and gay sex could change the wrold. So - (lugahetr) The time came to focus on my next step. Where was I going to go to college, after Bronx Science? I had changed the institution of which I was a part, but I was tired. I received an acceptance lteter from Georgetown University, and it made perfect sense that I would go here. It was in Washington DC, which, as a New Yorker, is probably the only other aectbcpale city on the East Coast. The School of Foreign Service is perfect for my academic interests, and my parents again, who are here today, are Irish and Sicilian, so finally getting me into a Catholic school was a huge victory. (Laughter) Unfortunately, in 2011, when I was graduating, in 2010, when you searched Georgetown LGBTQ ctummnoiy in Google, this is what you saw. Story after story, after story of hate crime after hate crime, after hate crime. And while Georgetown was still rnzegocied as one of the most accepting Catholic or rgielsliuoy affiliated institutions in the country, we still had this huge prospect of vioncele to cneotnd with. I remember tlnlieg my parents, "I really want to go to this shocol, but I can't imagine dealing with violence again. I can't imagine, you know - In high school, I had people write 'fag' across my locker. I can't deal with that again. I'm too teird." And they said, "No, this is who you are. This is the stuff that you want to study." And I realized they potenid out in their wisdom and in their support of me that to not go to a school because I saw the tareht of violence was to deny the first thing that I had learned: that my identity could not be hidden. My debate coach said to me, "Thomas, the work that you've done at Bronx Science means that you can't turn your back on other places that, you know, have a history." And I knew that Georgetown had a very rich history of LGBTQ aiistvcm. And that holds on the second thing that I had learned in high school: that you have to cntiunoe the work of hosirty. But then, also, I thought about the third thing, that if I had the ctalibpiay to go to this school and to be a part of a gaert history and part of great institutions, like the then fodenud LGBTQ Resource Center, then I had an obligation to those who would be even less likely to be comfortable, but I would learn more about that later. I'd learn more about what those communities were later. But after the lab, I sort of knew what the community health impacts were of trying to assimilate and deny who you were. So, I came to Georgetown, and I learned first about how rich our history of LGBTQ advocacy was. So, on the left you see - Well, let's strat with on the right. On the right, you see lrroi Jean. She is the CEO of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center. I think they just cagnhed their name to The LA LGBTQ Center. Communities are always changing their ayrocmns. And she was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that sued Georgetown University in 1980, settled in 1989, that forced the university to recognize GU Pride, Georgetown's LGBTQ student group, under the DC hmaun rhigts Act; huge aocavcdy on the part of saying that Georgetown had a commitment to protect its LGBTQ students, just on the basis of equal protection, not yet drawing on sort of Georgetown's values quite yet. This was a legal agusinh. She's a Law student, right? So, that's what she focused on. The faith part wasn't really here yet. And on the left, you see demonstrations from GU Pride. Now, GU Pride - what we saw in those Google areiltcs was that, in 2007, there were these series of hate crimes, there were even more incidents before that, and there cntneuiod to be bias incidents. In rsnpsoee, GU pirde, the ltgbq student group, established by Lorri Jean in 89, printed off shirts meant to iaensrce visibility. These srhits said nothing but "I am." They tried to pensert a shirt to penisredt DeGioia at the time, and any student who entered this bilduing wearing one of these shirts was reemovd by campus police. We have printed the shirts every year since, and part of honoring our history was presenting president DeGioia with a sihrt the first time he accepted it two years ago. The shirt was pink that year too, so it was good, right? It was a particularly gay shirt. (Laughter) That was honor of the trans flag. Now, we've restarted the colors. So, you know, the "I am" truth has become full circle. So, I was honoring the history of gegtoeworn, but then, the qstieoun came to own, like I said, my own identity. Now, again, I said, I was half Irish, half Sicilian, so that meant I "spoke Catholic" with the best of them. I taught Sunday school for four years, baptized as soon as I was ready. I probably still have the gown somewhere. That was the first gown I wore, it was my baptism. I blame you. I bamle you. (Laughter) I don't want to ever hear anything about drag, ever again. So, I knew that my contribution to this work could be to use the privilege that I had been given as someone who was both gay and Catholic, and be a visible example of, "No, the next institution that I would tackle - not as a whole, but in a little way - would be LGBTQ peoples in the cltoiahc church." Now, at Georgetown, obviously there was opposition. These are two of my faritove photos. One was of a vdieo made by Family sednutt Action, which demeed me and a few other stdutnes as "The skmoe of Satan," my favorite superlative of all time. It is my overview on my rmséué. (Laughter) I'm kidding. I promise, Ma. OK. The other being from an interrogation of the spaeker that this campus group, Love Saxa, had brought to campus. The point here is that, again, just like Jon Cruz did, just like Perry Halkitis did, I refuse to use my creative energies to bend myself into an institution. I use my creative energies to bend the itntisiotun to apcect ppeloe, to accept identities, which really isn't difficult, as Father O'Brien sort of opened this session. In its purest form, what Pride and what these students were doing was saying, "I am here for me. This is a part of my identity." And with other Jesuit veulas, like "cura personalis", meeting people; mind, body and soul, pnciikg at parts of their identity, community in diversity, it's not hard to make a visible case as to why Catholic institutions in particular need to embrace their LGBTQ students, and this worked. When you secarh for Georgetown LGBTQ community today, you see a very different story. You see articles in the New York Times, in the wgitnshaon Post. You see stories about million-dollar donations to the LGBTQ Resource Center. Today, the LGBTQ Resource Center at Georgetown University is a model for all in the country, and it's the most well-financed in the country. Now, obviously, I was only a small part of this work, but part of visibility, part of Georgetown owning its identity and owning its history means now that other institutions, our peer jesiut and Catholic institutions and any other faith-based institution, cannot say that they have this irreconcilable dnecefirfe with their LGBTQ students. Georgetown is more Catholic today because there are fewer hate crimes, and the reason why there are fewer hate crimes, the raosens why our students feel embraced and feel welcomed in a Jesuit community is because we support them and say it is our duty as Catholics to support them. But the work is not done. Oh, wait, no - The work is not done. This photo is from Coming Out Day at Georgetown University this year; that's why the shirts are red; my last conmig Out Day at Georgetown University. In front of me is the dcireotr of the LGBTQ rrcoeuse Center. And I always liked to look to this iagme as sort of symbolic. Shiva, who you see here, you know, has been at Georgetown since 2008, and she has been a trailblazer for this work at Catholic institutions. I'm horneod to have worked with her so closely for the last four years. And as you can see, we've come out of the door, we're here, we are visible, we are supported by this institution. I am on this TED stage, wearing a shirt that, eight years ago, would not even be allowed in this building, but there are still so many behind us, there are so many in our community who do not have the rsuecreos that they need, and it is our obligation not to assimilate, not to cover, because we need to keep the community open, so that, one day, they can feel comfortable. At Georgetown, there's a real culture of complacency. When I came here, the pressures to cover were real. It's easy to say, "We're here now, we have this great LGBTQ Resource Center, GU Pride is well-financed. Let's be normal now." Were we ever normal? Even if you're straight. What do you cover? What are the things that you're not hinidg? When you hide these things, you're not building a community of similarity; you're losing out on who you authentically are. And so, all three prtas, Georgetown's history tuhgat me again to emcbrae and to build upon the work; my own identity needed to be owned to prove that these two things do come together and live in me; but also there is so much work left to be done, and we have an obligation to be visible, so that those folk have the ability to, one day, come out and stand with us. And so, to answer the question in summation, I am so gay because I can be married in 35 staets, but we can be fired for doing the same thing in thirty - It changes every day, the laws just keep chnanigg. I can be married in 35 states, but fired in all of the gray ones. I am so gay because 40% of all homeless youth are LGBTQ. I am so gay because 1 in 12 trans people will be murdered. I am so gay because the same systems that say, "Gay people are less, then they need to abide by our standards of what is normal" are the same stesyms that justify police brutality, discrimination, voter discrimination laws, but most importantly, I am so gay because I had such loving resources that provided me with so much strength, like my parents, that it would be selfish and wrong not to share that with people who do not have them yet. Thank you. (Applause)

Open Cloze

So, thank you. Oh! Good, this is on. So - I'm trying to remember the first time I was ever asked, "Why are you so gay?" (Laughter) Probably in middle school, before it actually applied to any form of sexual orientation, right? Because in middle school, you don't have any orientation, let alone a sexual one. It just used to refer to something, you know, you don't _____. But the funny thing is that, since middle school, I've probably been _____ this question almost as much as any other question. If I had a dime for each time I've been asked, "Why are you so gay?," I could maybe pay for one credit at Georgetown. So - (Laughter) But the interesting thing about this question too is the sort of opposing motivations as to why people would ask this question. Some people ask this question as a way to _____ me and to shame the identity. They say, "Why are you so gay?," as if, you know, it _______ them, somehow it smells, I don't know. But then, also people very _____ to me, who love me very much, ask it from a place of love and concern: "Why are you so visible? Why would you subject yourself to potential discrimination, when you don't have to?" And therefore, answering this question involves addressing both of these sorts of concerns and both of these motivations. And really, for me, it comes down to three things. One is my obligations to history; two, the realities of my own identity; and lastly, our ___________ for those yet to come. Now, some of you here are guests, so you're like, "Well, he doesn't seem that gay to me. His suit's a little tight, but no gay person would use white text in a __________. (Laughter) But I assure you, and let me prove it to you - You see, two weeks ago I was on this stage in the Mr. Georgetown pageant - Mom, cover your eyes - (Laughter) and I was crowned Mr. Georgetown by performing the first-ever drag routine in Gaston Hall, I think, unless the judge would say something I didn't know about. But - (Laughter) Well, but _____ can confirm later. But the _____ thing about this is, as shocking as this is and as scared as I was that day to sort of break ground and bring this performance into this space where it had never been before, before I came out on stage, I was thinking about how scared I would be if who I was eight years ago could see where I was now. Granted, when I see who I was eight years ago, I'm equally horrified. Give it to me. There we go! (Laughter) Yes, so I admit this is a picture of me in a Harry Potter costume, but I assure you I ______ like this every single day, except for the scar on the forehead. But otherwise, every day I was the same. This was the ______. That was real tape. Those were really broken glasses. I go to this time in my life because I think that this is where answering the question, "Why are you so gay?" begins, because it was in this point of my life that I started what we know as covering. It was around this time that, even though I didn't necessarily feel all that different from my peers, other people did. And what had started as, "Oh, you're so gay!" became ________, became rumors, became _____. This is when we, as a community, human ______, have a sort of tendency that, when we detect difference, when we ______ something we don't understand, even if we can't name it yet - and we were all too young at this age to name what was different, or to act on what was different - we try to correct it through less than honorable means. And so, people would make fun of the way that I walked, and still do, even though that was really because one leg was shorter than the other. I was born with one leg one inch shorter than the other. So, I always stand like this. It's not an affect. So, I would ________ think about every single step that I took. It became __________. And people started to make fun of the way that I moved my hands when I talked, which was really just because I'm Sicilian. (Laughter) More to do with that than anything else. And then people would make fun of my _____, even though none of our voices had changed yet. It's funny to have someone make fun of your voice when it cracks in the middle of an insult. (Laughter) So, you can imagine how difficult, as a New Yorker, it was to walk and talk, and have a conversation while I'm motivating every single motion of my voice and my ______. The things that we take for granted, the ways that we navigate the world in normal ways were critical things that I had to think about every second of the day. I had to expend all of my creative energy on covering what it was that made me different. When I went to high school, this started to change a little bit. Because I was able to develop the vocabulary, I started to see what it was that made me different than other people, because, as we all know, ________ kick in, and we sort of can see, "Ah! So that's the problem." Now, when I went to high school, I was introduced to the director of the debate team, Jonathan Cruz, who was the first gay person I had ever met, who owned their identity unapologetically. Instead of expending his creative energy to change himself, and to cover, and to meet the standards that society ______ him to meet, he instead put his energy into building a community of _________ students who worshiped him because he was a ______ god! The hilarious thing - I didn't put up a _____ because he'd hate me - is, you know, he was a slightly __________ ______ man from Great Neck, who had a following! How does that happen? And it's because he used his energy - he didn't apologize for himself. By not having to _____, he was able to apply that energy into a community and into students. But that wasn't quite yet enough for me to own my own identity. I had to start working at a meth lab. Now, clarification: you _______ I was going in other direction. By meth lab, I mean a research lab where I studied people addicted to meth. This is what it looked like. It was not a trailer in Albuquerque, I promise. (Laughter) Yeah. It was 726, ________. Very, very different than Albuquerque. So I've heard. So, it was at this laboratory that I met another mentor. You see, at Bronx Science, _______ and other students engage in these research projects, they _____ __________ all around the country and try to get them to help them with research projects, and then we can submit these ______ to all these things across the country, yadda yadda yadda. The only professor who responded to me ________ to be the one I'd reached out to just because he held a prestigious position at NYU Steinhardt. His name is Perry Halkitis. And Perry Halkitis was yet another example of a man who was owning his identity, but also we had a lot in common that I didn't realize. He had grown up in the neighborhood that I had gone to school, and that my mother was from, _______, Queens, - which will explain my parents' accent, if you have met them, and my own, if it _____ out - but also he had gone to the Bronx High School of Science. And _______ another person who had used his creative energy into building a community around him, into building a laboratory around him, made me feel comfortable at least owning my identity to myself. But it yet really wasn't enough for me to start owning it to other people. I needed a more powerful _____, I ______ to __________ what the history of this community looked like. The first thing that I'd learned was the reality of my own identity was that I couldn't cover, and _____________ who I was to myself at the very least _______ me to be _____ for the first time in years. When it came to showing other people, I was in luck. You see, this lab was only two blocks away from this building. Now, some of you may not recognize this building. If you do, my _____ number is on the program. I'm joking. But... (Laughter) For those of you who don't recognize this building, let me give you some historic context. This building was the Stonewall Inn, and it was a short walk from where I was working, and I'd ______ it nearly a dozen times before I finally ________ that I was _______ only two or three blocks away from the birth of the Gay Rights Movement, and this was important for one real reason: because Stonewall was one of the first instances in American history where the LGBTQ community said, "We will not try to hide anymore. We are tired of using our energies to cover. We would rather own ourselves and use our identities to change the systems around us." It was there the first time they acknowledged it is easier to change a community, it is easier to change society, than to change your own ________. And it does much less damage that way. It was those who could not change their identities, those who had the most trouble covering, the drag queens, the __________ gay men, the queer women, who were the ones to throw the first ______, the first rocks, the first punches. Being exposed to this history gave me the strength and knowledge that I was joining a community, I was not the first, I had the shoulders of giants to stand on, not just _____ ________, not just Jon Cruz, but also an entire movement. This __________ the rest of my high school career, where I sort of vowed to be outrageous. There were administrators who were homophobic and who gave pushback during a project defense of the research that I was doing. An administrator, who had known that I was gay, publicly __________ me and said, "Well, you're only studying gay men and sexual _________ because you're going to get the _______ that you want. Every gay man has hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of sexual partners, and they're just born to make bad decisions." First of all, I was disappointed to learn all gay men had hundreds and ________ of sexual partners. I had not experienced that, but... (Laughter) A dozen would have been nice, but... (Laughter) Dealing with this pushback required one more understanding: Why would I engage in this work? Why would I fight? Why would I be out, and even if I had all this history, what good was that? What good was it doing if I could still hide away? Right? I had this ability. Why fight it? But it was the work that I was doing in the lab that taught me something else. You see, my ________ ________ around men who became exposed to HIV/AIDS in the context of drug use, and the vast majority of the men that I _______ were men of _____. They also were very unlikely to identify as gay, even though all their sexual behaviors were almost exclusively with men. And this was interesting. Because they were less likely to identify as gay, they were less likely to seek out community resources, they were less likely to ________ with testing resources. The fact that the modern Gay Rights ________ at the time had ignored ___________ of color and been _______ on being "mainstream", "We're just like you. Look at _____. She's not going to try to _______ you. She's on daytime television" - and we had left out the more radical elements of our communities. Those who have a harder time fitting in, these communities were left behind, they had no one to go to for resources. This was having real health implications, and to this day, the rate of HIV infection in the US, among _____ men of color, is increasing, and if it increases at current rates, it is projected that 50% of all college-aged men of color who have sex with other men will be HIV-positive by the time they are 50. Half. And this is a disease that we can _____, and when you are in treatment, you cannot infect other people. This is unacceptable. And so, I understood that being out was not important just for myself, it was not important just because of the debt that I owed to history, but also because of the people that came forward. And so, I made sure that in high school, when I was put in ______ of ________ novices, I was my own Jon Cruz, I made sure I was as out as possible, and taught debaters to own their __________ as much as possible. Not enough of them have come out, unfortunately; I think we've ______ them. They've had three debate coaches. So, they all have all these affectations that are going to really ruin their chances with women in the ______, but that's fine. (Laughter) And if they watch this, I'm sorry. But, you know, really owning your identity was valuable. I __________ owned my identity in debate ______, and that allowed me to win the NDCA national championship - thank you, Jon Cruz - and then also the project ended up getting submitted and I got to meet the President at the time, Obama. Bush wouldn't have been as amenable to the project about how meth and gay sex could change the _____. So - (________) The time came to focus on my next step. Where was I going to go to college, after Bronx Science? I had changed the institution of which I was a part, but I was tired. I received an acceptance ______ from Georgetown University, and it made perfect sense that I would go here. It was in Washington DC, which, as a New Yorker, is probably the only other __________ city on the East Coast. The School of Foreign Service is perfect for my academic interests, and my parents again, who are here today, are Irish and Sicilian, so finally getting me into a Catholic school was a huge victory. (Laughter) Unfortunately, in 2011, when I was graduating, in 2010, when you searched Georgetown LGBTQ _________ in Google, this is what you saw. Story after story, after story of hate crime after hate crime, after hate crime. And while Georgetown was still __________ as one of the most accepting Catholic or ___________ affiliated institutions in the country, we still had this huge prospect of ________ to _______ with. I remember _______ my parents, "I really want to go to this ______, but I can't imagine dealing with violence again. I can't imagine, you know - In high school, I had people write 'fag' across my locker. I can't deal with that again. I'm too _____." And they said, "No, this is who you are. This is the stuff that you want to study." And I realized they _______ out in their wisdom and in their support of me that to not go to a school because I saw the ______ of violence was to deny the first thing that I had learned: that my identity could not be hidden. My debate coach said to me, "Thomas, the work that you've done at Bronx Science means that you can't turn your back on other places that, you know, have a history." And I knew that Georgetown had a very rich history of LGBTQ ________. And that holds on the second thing that I had learned in high school: that you have to ________ the work of _______. But then, also, I thought about the third thing, that if I had the __________ to go to this school and to be a part of a _____ history and part of great institutions, like the then _______ LGBTQ Resource Center, then I had an obligation to those who would be even less likely to be comfortable, but I would learn more about that later. I'd learn more about what those communities were later. But after the lab, I sort of knew what the community health impacts were of trying to assimilate and deny who you were. So, I came to Georgetown, and I learned first about how rich our history of LGBTQ advocacy was. So, on the left you see - Well, let's _____ with on the right. On the right, you see _____ Jean. She is the CEO of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center. I think they just _______ their name to The LA LGBTQ Center. Communities are always changing their ________. And she was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that sued Georgetown University in 1980, settled in 1989, that forced the university to recognize GU Pride, Georgetown's LGBTQ student group, under the DC _____ ______ Act; huge ________ on the part of saying that Georgetown had a commitment to protect its LGBTQ students, just on the basis of equal protection, not yet drawing on sort of Georgetown's values quite yet. This was a legal _______. She's a Law student, right? So, that's what she focused on. The faith part wasn't really here yet. And on the left, you see demonstrations from GU Pride. Now, GU Pride - what we saw in those Google ________ was that, in 2007, there were these series of hate crimes, there were even more incidents before that, and there _________ to be bias incidents. In ________, GU _____, the _____ student group, established by Lorri Jean in 89, printed off shirts meant to ________ visibility. These ______ said nothing but "I am." They tried to _______ a shirt to _________ DeGioia at the time, and any student who entered this ________ wearing one of these shirts was _______ by campus police. We have printed the shirts every year since, and part of honoring our history was presenting president DeGioia with a _____ the first time he accepted it two years ago. The shirt was pink that year too, so it was good, right? It was a particularly gay shirt. (Laughter) That was honor of the trans flag. Now, we've restarted the colors. So, you know, the "I am" truth has become full circle. So, I was honoring the history of __________, but then, the ________ came to own, like I said, my own identity. Now, again, I said, I was half Irish, half Sicilian, so that meant I "spoke Catholic" with the best of them. I taught Sunday school for four years, baptized as soon as I was ready. I probably still have the gown somewhere. That was the first gown I wore, it was my baptism. I blame you. I _____ you. (Laughter) I don't want to ever hear anything about drag, ever again. So, I knew that my contribution to this work could be to use the privilege that I had been given as someone who was both gay and Catholic, and be a visible example of, "No, the next institution that I would tackle - not as a whole, but in a little way - would be LGBTQ peoples in the ________ church." Now, at Georgetown, obviously there was opposition. These are two of my ________ photos. One was of a _____ made by Family _______ Action, which ______ me and a few other ________ as "The _____ of Satan," my favorite superlative of all time. It is my overview on my ______. (Laughter) I'm kidding. I promise, Ma. OK. The other being from an interrogation of the _______ that this campus group, Love Saxa, had brought to campus. The point here is that, again, just like Jon Cruz did, just like Perry Halkitis did, I refuse to use my creative energies to bend myself into an institution. I use my creative energies to bend the ___________ to ______ ______, to accept identities, which really isn't difficult, as Father O'Brien sort of opened this session. In its purest form, what Pride and what these students were doing was saying, "I am here for me. This is a part of my identity." And with other Jesuit ______, like "cura personalis", meeting people; mind, body and soul, _______ at parts of their identity, community in diversity, it's not hard to make a visible case as to why Catholic institutions in particular need to embrace their LGBTQ students, and this worked. When you ______ for Georgetown LGBTQ community today, you see a very different story. You see articles in the New York Times, in the __________ Post. You see stories about million-dollar donations to the LGBTQ Resource Center. Today, the LGBTQ Resource Center at Georgetown University is a model for all in the country, and it's the most well-financed in the country. Now, obviously, I was only a small part of this work, but part of visibility, part of Georgetown owning its identity and owning its history means now that other institutions, our peer ______ and Catholic institutions and any other faith-based institution, cannot say that they have this irreconcilable __________ with their LGBTQ students. Georgetown is more Catholic today because there are fewer hate crimes, and the reason why there are fewer hate crimes, the _______ why our students feel embraced and feel welcomed in a Jesuit community is because we support them and say it is our duty as Catholics to support them. But the work is not done. Oh, wait, no - The work is not done. This photo is from Coming Out Day at Georgetown University this year; that's why the shirts are red; my last ______ Out Day at Georgetown University. In front of me is the ________ of the LGBTQ ________ Center. And I always liked to look to this _____ as sort of symbolic. Shiva, who you see here, you know, has been at Georgetown since 2008, and she has been a trailblazer for this work at Catholic institutions. I'm _______ to have worked with her so closely for the last four years. And as you can see, we've come out of the door, we're here, we are visible, we are supported by this institution. I am on this TED stage, wearing a shirt that, eight years ago, would not even be allowed in this building, but there are still so many behind us, there are so many in our community who do not have the _________ that they need, and it is our obligation not to assimilate, not to cover, because we need to keep the community open, so that, one day, they can feel comfortable. At Georgetown, there's a real culture of complacency. When I came here, the pressures to cover were real. It's easy to say, "We're here now, we have this great LGBTQ Resource Center, GU Pride is well-financed. Let's be normal now." Were we ever normal? Even if you're straight. What do you cover? What are the things that you're not ______? When you hide these things, you're not building a community of similarity; you're losing out on who you authentically are. And so, all three _____, Georgetown's history ______ me again to _______ and to build upon the work; my own identity needed to be owned to prove that these two things do come together and live in me; but also there is so much work left to be done, and we have an obligation to be visible, so that those folk have the ability to, one day, come out and stand with us. And so, to answer the question in summation, I am so gay because I can be married in 35 ______, but we can be fired for doing the same thing in thirty - It changes every day, the laws just keep ________. I can be married in 35 states, but fired in all of the gray ones. I am so gay because 40% of all homeless youth are LGBTQ. I am so gay because 1 in 12 trans people will be murdered. I am so gay because the same systems that say, "Gay people are less, then they need to abide by our standards of what is normal" are the same _______ that justify police brutality, discrimination, voter discrimination laws, but most importantly, I am so gay because I had such loving resources that provided me with so much strength, like my parents, that it would be selfish and wrong not to share that with people who do not have them yet. Thank you. (Applause)

Solution

  1. obligations
  2. institution
  3. acronyms
  4. realized
  5. detect
  6. ellen
  7. happened
  8. deemed
  9. charge
  10. enjoy
  11. building
  12. deliberate
  13. states
  14. students
  15. future
  16. human
  17. georgetown
  18. continue
  19. speech
  20. increase
  21. hundreds
  22. continued
  23. powerpoint
  24. questioned
  25. results
  26. ruined
  27. lorri
  28. understand
  29. whispers
  30. student
  31. effeminate
  32. funny
  33. influenced
  34. resource
  35. wanted
  36. start
  37. catholic
  38. voice
  39. anguish
  40. phone
  41. overweight
  42. video
  43. smoke
  44. suddenly
  45. needed
  46. pride
  47. identities
  48. violence
  49. thought
  50. looked
  51. founded
  52. photo
  53. difference
  54. cover
  55. favorite
  56. focused
  57. brian
  58. jesuit
  59. removed
  60. coming
  61. shirts
  62. astoria
  63. tired
  64. great
  65. director
  66. dedicated
  67. blame
  68. identity
  69. identify
  70. color
  71. shame
  72. research
  73. letter
  74. revolves
  75. present
  76. happy
  77. accept
  78. honored
  79. rights
  80. changed
  81. understanding
  82. parts
  83. rounds
  84. religiously
  85. search
  86. passed
  87. systems
  88. treat
  89. eventually
  90. president
  91. history
  92. jewish
  93. halkitis
  94. lgbtq
  95. résumé
  96. offends
  97. shirt
  98. image
  99. washington
  100. beings
  101. asked
  102. close
  103. contend
  104. picking
  105. slips
  106. studied
  107. laughter
  108. teaching
  109. people
  110. convert
  111. activism
  112. debate
  113. response
  114. advocacy
  115. broadway
  116. hiding
  117. slurs
  118. school
  119. meeting
  120. professors
  121. speaker
  122. world
  123. working
  124. threat
  125. taught
  126. telling
  127. question
  128. reasons
  129. perry
  130. capability
  131. force
  132. communities
  133. changing
  134. outfit
  135. embrace
  136. bricks
  137. movement
  138. papers
  139. young
  140. recognized
  141. pointed
  142. seniors
  143. allowed
  144. behaviors
  145. articles
  146. community
  147. resources
  148. acceptable
  149. email
  150. hormones
  151. values

Original Text

So, thank you. Oh! Good, this is on. So - I'm trying to remember the first time I was ever asked, "Why are you so gay?" (Laughter) Probably in middle school, before it actually applied to any form of sexual orientation, right? Because in middle school, you don't have any orientation, let alone a sexual one. It just used to refer to something, you know, you don't enjoy. But the funny thing is that, since middle school, I've probably been asked this question almost as much as any other question. If I had a dime for each time I've been asked, "Why are you so gay?," I could maybe pay for one credit at Georgetown. So - (Laughter) But the interesting thing about this question too is the sort of opposing motivations as to why people would ask this question. Some people ask this question as a way to shame me and to shame the identity. They say, "Why are you so gay?," as if, you know, it offends them, somehow it smells, I don't know. But then, also people very close to me, who love me very much, ask it from a place of love and concern: "Why are you so visible? Why would you subject yourself to potential discrimination, when you don't have to?" And therefore, answering this question involves addressing both of these sorts of concerns and both of these motivations. And really, for me, it comes down to three things. One is my obligations to history; two, the realities of my own identity; and lastly, our obligations for those yet to come. Now, some of you here are guests, so you're like, "Well, he doesn't seem that gay to me. His suit's a little tight, but no gay person would use white text in a Powerpoint. (Laughter) But I assure you, and let me prove it to you - You see, two weeks ago I was on this stage in the Mr. Georgetown pageant - Mom, cover your eyes - (Laughter) and I was crowned Mr. Georgetown by performing the first-ever drag routine in Gaston Hall, I think, unless the judge would say something I didn't know about. But - (Laughter) Well, but Brian can confirm later. But the funny thing about this is, as shocking as this is and as scared as I was that day to sort of break ground and bring this performance into this space where it had never been before, before I came out on stage, I was thinking about how scared I would be if who I was eight years ago could see where I was now. Granted, when I see who I was eight years ago, I'm equally horrified. Give it to me. There we go! (Laughter) Yes, so I admit this is a picture of me in a Harry Potter costume, but I assure you I looked like this every single day, except for the scar on the forehead. But otherwise, every day I was the same. This was the outfit. That was real tape. Those were really broken glasses. I go to this time in my life because I think that this is where answering the question, "Why are you so gay?" begins, because it was in this point of my life that I started what we know as covering. It was around this time that, even though I didn't necessarily feel all that different from my peers, other people did. And what had started as, "Oh, you're so gay!" became whispers, became rumors, became slurs. This is when we, as a community, human beings, have a sort of tendency that, when we detect difference, when we detect something we don't understand, even if we can't name it yet - and we were all too young at this age to name what was different, or to act on what was different - we try to correct it through less than honorable means. And so, people would make fun of the way that I walked, and still do, even though that was really because one leg was shorter than the other. I was born with one leg one inch shorter than the other. So, I always stand like this. It's not an affect. So, I would suddenly think about every single step that I took. It became deliberate. And people started to make fun of the way that I moved my hands when I talked, which was really just because I'm Sicilian. (Laughter) More to do with that than anything else. And then people would make fun of my voice, even though none of our voices had changed yet. It's funny to have someone make fun of your voice when it cracks in the middle of an insult. (Laughter) So, you can imagine how difficult, as a New Yorker, it was to walk and talk, and have a conversation while I'm motivating every single motion of my voice and my speech. The things that we take for granted, the ways that we navigate the world in normal ways were critical things that I had to think about every second of the day. I had to expend all of my creative energy on covering what it was that made me different. When I went to high school, this started to change a little bit. Because I was able to develop the vocabulary, I started to see what it was that made me different than other people, because, as we all know, hormones kick in, and we sort of can see, "Ah! So that's the problem." Now, when I went to high school, I was introduced to the director of the debate team, Jonathan Cruz, who was the first gay person I had ever met, who owned their identity unapologetically. Instead of expending his creative energy to change himself, and to cover, and to meet the standards that society wanted him to meet, he instead put his energy into building a community of dedicated students who worshiped him because he was a debate god! The hilarious thing - I didn't put up a photo because he'd hate me - is, you know, he was a slightly overweight Jewish man from Great Neck, who had a following! How does that happen? And it's because he used his energy - he didn't apologize for himself. By not having to cover, he was able to apply that energy into a community and into students. But that wasn't quite yet enough for me to own my own identity. I had to start working at a meth lab. Now, clarification: you thought I was going in other direction. By meth lab, I mean a research lab where I studied people addicted to meth. This is what it looked like. It was not a trailer in Albuquerque, I promise. (Laughter) Yeah. It was 726, Broadway. Very, very different than Albuquerque. So I've heard. So, it was at this laboratory that I met another mentor. You see, at Bronx Science, seniors and other students engage in these research projects, they email professors all around the country and try to get them to help them with research projects, and then we can submit these papers to all these things across the country, yadda yadda yadda. The only professor who responded to me happened to be the one I'd reached out to just because he held a prestigious position at NYU Steinhardt. His name is Perry Halkitis. And Perry Halkitis was yet another example of a man who was owning his identity, but also we had a lot in common that I didn't realize. He had grown up in the neighborhood that I had gone to school, and that my mother was from, Astoria, Queens, - which will explain my parents' accent, if you have met them, and my own, if it slips out - but also he had gone to the Bronx High School of Science. And meeting another person who had used his creative energy into building a community around him, into building a laboratory around him, made me feel comfortable at least owning my identity to myself. But it yet really wasn't enough for me to start owning it to other people. I needed a more powerful force, I needed to understand what the history of this community looked like. The first thing that I'd learned was the reality of my own identity was that I couldn't cover, and understanding who I was to myself at the very least allowed me to be happy for the first time in years. When it came to showing other people, I was in luck. You see, this lab was only two blocks away from this building. Now, some of you may not recognize this building. If you do, my phone number is on the program. I'm joking. But... (Laughter) For those of you who don't recognize this building, let me give you some historic context. This building was the Stonewall Inn, and it was a short walk from where I was working, and I'd passed it nearly a dozen times before I finally realized that I was working only two or three blocks away from the birth of the Gay Rights Movement, and this was important for one real reason: because Stonewall was one of the first instances in American history where the LGBTQ community said, "We will not try to hide anymore. We are tired of using our energies to cover. We would rather own ourselves and use our identities to change the systems around us." It was there the first time they acknowledged it is easier to change a community, it is easier to change society, than to change your own identity. And it does much less damage that way. It was those who could not change their identities, those who had the most trouble covering, the drag queens, the effeminate gay men, the queer women, who were the ones to throw the first bricks, the first rocks, the first punches. Being exposed to this history gave me the strength and knowledge that I was joining a community, I was not the first, I had the shoulders of giants to stand on, not just Perry Halkitis, not just Jon Cruz, but also an entire movement. This influenced the rest of my high school career, where I sort of vowed to be outrageous. There were administrators who were homophobic and who gave pushback during a project defense of the research that I was doing. An administrator, who had known that I was gay, publicly questioned me and said, "Well, you're only studying gay men and sexual behaviors because you're going to get the results that you want. Every gay man has hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of sexual partners, and they're just born to make bad decisions." First of all, I was disappointed to learn all gay men had hundreds and hundreds of sexual partners. I had not experienced that, but... (Laughter) A dozen would have been nice, but... (Laughter) Dealing with this pushback required one more understanding: Why would I engage in this work? Why would I fight? Why would I be out, and even if I had all this history, what good was that? What good was it doing if I could still hide away? Right? I had this ability. Why fight it? But it was the work that I was doing in the lab that taught me something else. You see, my research revolves around men who became exposed to HIV/AIDS in the context of drug use, and the vast majority of the men that I studied were men of color. They also were very unlikely to identify as gay, even though all their sexual behaviors were almost exclusively with men. And this was interesting. Because they were less likely to identify as gay, they were less likely to seek out community resources, they were less likely to identify with testing resources. The fact that the modern Gay Rights Movement at the time had ignored communities of color and been focused on being "mainstream", "We're just like you. Look at Ellen. She's not going to try to convert you. She's on daytime television" - and we had left out the more radical elements of our communities. Those who have a harder time fitting in, these communities were left behind, they had no one to go to for resources. This was having real health implications, and to this day, the rate of HIV infection in the US, among young men of color, is increasing, and if it increases at current rates, it is projected that 50% of all college-aged men of color who have sex with other men will be HIV-positive by the time they are 50. Half. And this is a disease that we can treat, and when you are in treatment, you cannot infect other people. This is unacceptable. And so, I understood that being out was not important just for myself, it was not important just because of the debt that I owed to history, but also because of the people that came forward. And so, I made sure that in high school, when I was put in charge of teaching novices, I was my own Jon Cruz, I made sure I was as out as possible, and taught debaters to own their identities as much as possible. Not enough of them have come out, unfortunately; I think we've ruined them. They've had three debate coaches. So, they all have all these affectations that are going to really ruin their chances with women in the future, but that's fine. (Laughter) And if they watch this, I'm sorry. But, you know, really owning your identity was valuable. I eventually owned my identity in debate rounds, and that allowed me to win the NDCA national championship - thank you, Jon Cruz - and then also the project ended up getting submitted and I got to meet the President at the time, Obama. Bush wouldn't have been as amenable to the project about how meth and gay sex could change the world. So - (Laughter) The time came to focus on my next step. Where was I going to go to college, after Bronx Science? I had changed the institution of which I was a part, but I was tired. I received an acceptance letter from Georgetown University, and it made perfect sense that I would go here. It was in Washington DC, which, as a New Yorker, is probably the only other acceptable city on the East Coast. The School of Foreign Service is perfect for my academic interests, and my parents again, who are here today, are Irish and Sicilian, so finally getting me into a Catholic school was a huge victory. (Laughter) Unfortunately, in 2011, when I was graduating, in 2010, when you searched Georgetown LGBTQ community in Google, this is what you saw. Story after story, after story of hate crime after hate crime, after hate crime. And while Georgetown was still recognized as one of the most accepting Catholic or religiously affiliated institutions in the country, we still had this huge prospect of violence to contend with. I remember telling my parents, "I really want to go to this school, but I can't imagine dealing with violence again. I can't imagine, you know - In high school, I had people write 'fag' across my locker. I can't deal with that again. I'm too tired." And they said, "No, this is who you are. This is the stuff that you want to study." And I realized they pointed out in their wisdom and in their support of me that to not go to a school because I saw the threat of violence was to deny the first thing that I had learned: that my identity could not be hidden. My debate coach said to me, "Thomas, the work that you've done at Bronx Science means that you can't turn your back on other places that, you know, have a history." And I knew that Georgetown had a very rich history of LGBTQ activism. And that holds on the second thing that I had learned in high school: that you have to continue the work of history. But then, also, I thought about the third thing, that if I had the capability to go to this school and to be a part of a great history and part of great institutions, like the then founded LGBTQ Resource Center, then I had an obligation to those who would be even less likely to be comfortable, but I would learn more about that later. I'd learn more about what those communities were later. But after the lab, I sort of knew what the community health impacts were of trying to assimilate and deny who you were. So, I came to Georgetown, and I learned first about how rich our history of LGBTQ advocacy was. So, on the left you see - Well, let's start with on the right. On the right, you see Lorri Jean. She is the CEO of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center. I think they just changed their name to The LA LGBTQ Center. Communities are always changing their acronyms. And she was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that sued Georgetown University in 1980, settled in 1989, that forced the university to recognize GU Pride, Georgetown's LGBTQ student group, under the DC Human Rights Act; huge advocacy on the part of saying that Georgetown had a commitment to protect its LGBTQ students, just on the basis of equal protection, not yet drawing on sort of Georgetown's values quite yet. This was a legal anguish. She's a Law student, right? So, that's what she focused on. The faith part wasn't really here yet. And on the left, you see demonstrations from GU Pride. Now, GU Pride - what we saw in those Google articles was that, in 2007, there were these series of hate crimes, there were even more incidents before that, and there continued to be bias incidents. In response, GU Pride, the LGBTQ student group, established by Lorri Jean in 89, printed off shirts meant to increase visibility. These shirts said nothing but "I am." They tried to present a shirt to president DeGioia at the time, and any student who entered this building wearing one of these shirts was removed by campus police. We have printed the shirts every year since, and part of honoring our history was presenting president DeGioia with a shirt the first time he accepted it two years ago. The shirt was pink that year too, so it was good, right? It was a particularly gay shirt. (Laughter) That was honor of the trans flag. Now, we've restarted the colors. So, you know, the "I am" truth has become full circle. So, I was honoring the history of Georgetown, but then, the question came to own, like I said, my own identity. Now, again, I said, I was half Irish, half Sicilian, so that meant I "spoke Catholic" with the best of them. I taught Sunday school for four years, baptized as soon as I was ready. I probably still have the gown somewhere. That was the first gown I wore, it was my baptism. I blame you. I blame you. (Laughter) I don't want to ever hear anything about drag, ever again. So, I knew that my contribution to this work could be to use the privilege that I had been given as someone who was both gay and Catholic, and be a visible example of, "No, the next institution that I would tackle - not as a whole, but in a little way - would be LGBTQ peoples in the Catholic church." Now, at Georgetown, obviously there was opposition. These are two of my favorite photos. One was of a video made by Family Student Action, which deemed me and a few other students as "The Smoke of Satan," my favorite superlative of all time. It is my overview on my résumé. (Laughter) I'm kidding. I promise, Ma. OK. The other being from an interrogation of the speaker that this campus group, Love Saxa, had brought to campus. The point here is that, again, just like Jon Cruz did, just like Perry Halkitis did, I refuse to use my creative energies to bend myself into an institution. I use my creative energies to bend the institution to accept people, to accept identities, which really isn't difficult, as Father O'Brien sort of opened this session. In its purest form, what Pride and what these students were doing was saying, "I am here for me. This is a part of my identity." And with other Jesuit values, like "cura personalis", meeting people; mind, body and soul, picking at parts of their identity, community in diversity, it's not hard to make a visible case as to why Catholic institutions in particular need to embrace their LGBTQ students, and this worked. When you search for Georgetown LGBTQ community today, you see a very different story. You see articles in the New York Times, in the Washington Post. You see stories about million-dollar donations to the LGBTQ Resource Center. Today, the LGBTQ Resource Center at Georgetown University is a model for all in the country, and it's the most well-financed in the country. Now, obviously, I was only a small part of this work, but part of visibility, part of Georgetown owning its identity and owning its history means now that other institutions, our peer Jesuit and Catholic institutions and any other faith-based institution, cannot say that they have this irreconcilable difference with their LGBTQ students. Georgetown is more Catholic today because there are fewer hate crimes, and the reason why there are fewer hate crimes, the reasons why our students feel embraced and feel welcomed in a Jesuit community is because we support them and say it is our duty as Catholics to support them. But the work is not done. Oh, wait, no - The work is not done. This photo is from Coming Out Day at Georgetown University this year; that's why the shirts are red; my last Coming Out Day at Georgetown University. In front of me is the director of the LGBTQ Resource Center. And I always liked to look to this image as sort of symbolic. Shiva, who you see here, you know, has been at Georgetown since 2008, and she has been a trailblazer for this work at Catholic institutions. I'm honored to have worked with her so closely for the last four years. And as you can see, we've come out of the door, we're here, we are visible, we are supported by this institution. I am on this TED stage, wearing a shirt that, eight years ago, would not even be allowed in this building, but there are still so many behind us, there are so many in our community who do not have the resources that they need, and it is our obligation not to assimilate, not to cover, because we need to keep the community open, so that, one day, they can feel comfortable. At Georgetown, there's a real culture of complacency. When I came here, the pressures to cover were real. It's easy to say, "We're here now, we have this great LGBTQ Resource Center, GU Pride is well-financed. Let's be normal now." Were we ever normal? Even if you're straight. What do you cover? What are the things that you're not hiding? When you hide these things, you're not building a community of similarity; you're losing out on who you authentically are. And so, all three parts, Georgetown's history taught me again to embrace and to build upon the work; my own identity needed to be owned to prove that these two things do come together and live in me; but also there is so much work left to be done, and we have an obligation to be visible, so that those folk have the ability to, one day, come out and stand with us. And so, to answer the question in summation, I am so gay because I can be married in 35 states, but we can be fired for doing the same thing in thirty - It changes every day, the laws just keep changing. I can be married in 35 states, but fired in all of the gray ones. I am so gay because 40% of all homeless youth are LGBTQ. I am so gay because 1 in 12 trans people will be murdered. I am so gay because the same systems that say, "Gay people are less, then they need to abide by our standards of what is normal" are the same systems that justify police brutality, discrimination, voter discrimination laws, but most importantly, I am so gay because I had such loving resources that provided me with so much strength, like my parents, that it would be selfish and wrong not to share that with people who do not have them yet. Thank you. (Applause)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
lgbtq resource 5
georgetown university 4
creative energy 3
perry halkitis 3
lgbtq community 3
gu pride 3
catholic institutions 3
resource center 3
gay person 2
high school 2
feel comfortable 2
gay rights 2
gay men 2
sexual behaviors 2
jon cruz 2
georgetown lgbtq 2
hate crime 2
lorri jean 2
lgbtq student 2
president degioia 2
creative energies 2

ngrams of length 3

collocation frequency
lgbtq resource center 3
georgetown lgbtq community 2

Important Words

  1. abide
  2. ability
  3. academic
  4. accent
  5. accept
  6. acceptable
  7. acceptance
  8. accepted
  9. accepting
  10. acknowledged
  11. acronyms
  12. act
  13. action
  14. activism
  15. addicted
  16. addressing
  17. administrator
  18. administrators
  19. admit
  20. advocacy
  21. affect
  22. affectations
  23. affiliated
  24. age
  25. albuquerque
  26. allowed
  27. amenable
  28. american
  29. anguish
  30. answer
  31. answering
  32. anymore
  33. apologize
  34. applause
  35. applied
  36. apply
  37. articles
  38. asked
  39. assimilate
  40. assure
  41. astoria
  42. authentically
  43. bad
  44. baptism
  45. baptized
  46. basis
  47. begins
  48. behaviors
  49. beings
  50. bend
  51. bias
  52. birth
  53. bit
  54. blame
  55. blocks
  56. body
  57. born
  58. break
  59. brian
  60. bricks
  61. bring
  62. broadway
  63. broken
  64. bronx
  65. brought
  66. brutality
  67. build
  68. building
  69. bush
  70. campus
  71. capability
  72. career
  73. case
  74. catholic
  75. catholics
  76. center
  77. ceo
  78. championship
  79. chances
  80. change
  81. changed
  82. changing
  83. charge
  84. church
  85. circle
  86. city
  87. close
  88. closely
  89. coach
  90. coaches
  91. coast
  92. college
  93. color
  94. colors
  95. comfortable
  96. coming
  97. commitment
  98. common
  99. communities
  100. community
  101. complacency
  102. concerns
  103. confirm
  104. contend
  105. context
  106. continue
  107. continued
  108. contribution
  109. conversation
  110. convert
  111. correct
  112. costume
  113. country
  114. cover
  115. covering
  116. cracks
  117. creative
  118. credit
  119. crime
  120. crimes
  121. critical
  122. crowned
  123. cruz
  124. culture
  125. current
  126. damage
  127. day
  128. daytime
  129. dc
  130. deal
  131. dealing
  132. debate
  133. debaters
  134. debt
  135. decisions
  136. dedicated
  137. deemed
  138. defense
  139. degioia
  140. deliberate
  141. demonstrations
  142. deny
  143. detect
  144. develop
  145. difference
  146. difficult
  147. dime
  148. direction
  149. director
  150. disappointed
  151. discrimination
  152. disease
  153. diversity
  154. donations
  155. door
  156. dozen
  157. drag
  158. drawing
  159. drug
  160. duty
  161. easier
  162. east
  163. easy
  164. effeminate
  165. elements
  166. ellen
  167. email
  168. embrace
  169. embraced
  170. ended
  171. energies
  172. energy
  173. engage
  174. enjoy
  175. entered
  176. entire
  177. equal
  178. equally
  179. established
  180. eventually
  181. exclusively
  182. expend
  183. expending
  184. experienced
  185. explain
  186. exposed
  187. eyes
  188. fact
  189. faith
  190. family
  191. father
  192. favorite
  193. feel
  194. fight
  195. finally
  196. fine
  197. fired
  198. fitting
  199. flag
  200. focus
  201. focused
  202. folk
  203. force
  204. forced
  205. forehead
  206. foreign
  207. form
  208. founded
  209. front
  210. full
  211. fun
  212. funny
  213. future
  214. gaston
  215. gave
  216. gay
  217. georgetown
  218. giants
  219. give
  220. glasses
  221. good
  222. google
  223. gown
  224. graduating
  225. granted
  226. gray
  227. great
  228. ground
  229. group
  230. grown
  231. gu
  232. guests
  233. halkitis
  234. hall
  235. hands
  236. happen
  237. happened
  238. happy
  239. hard
  240. harder
  241. harry
  242. hate
  243. health
  244. hear
  245. heard
  246. held
  247. hidden
  248. hide
  249. hiding
  250. high
  251. hilarious
  252. historic
  253. history
  254. hiv
  255. holds
  256. homeless
  257. homophobic
  258. honor
  259. honorable
  260. honored
  261. honoring
  262. hormones
  263. horrified
  264. huge
  265. human
  266. hundreds
  267. identify
  268. identities
  269. identity
  270. image
  271. imagine
  272. impacts
  273. implications
  274. important
  275. importantly
  276. inch
  277. incidents
  278. increase
  279. increases
  280. increasing
  281. infect
  282. infection
  283. influenced
  284. inn
  285. instances
  286. institution
  287. institutions
  288. insult
  289. interesting
  290. interests
  291. interrogation
  292. introduced
  293. involves
  294. irish
  295. irreconcilable
  296. jean
  297. jesuit
  298. jewish
  299. joining
  300. joking
  301. jon
  302. jonathan
  303. judge
  304. justify
  305. kick
  306. kidding
  307. knew
  308. knowledge
  309. la
  310. lab
  311. laboratory
  312. lastly
  313. laughter
  314. law
  315. laws
  316. lawsuit
  317. learn
  318. learned
  319. left
  320. leg
  321. legal
  322. lesbian
  323. letter
  324. lgbtq
  325. life
  326. live
  327. locker
  328. looked
  329. lorri
  330. losing
  331. lot
  332. love
  333. loving
  334. luck
  335. ma
  336. majority
  337. man
  338. married
  339. means
  340. meant
  341. meet
  342. meeting
  343. men
  344. mentor
  345. met
  346. meth
  347. middle
  348. mind
  349. model
  350. modern
  351. mom
  352. mother
  353. motion
  354. motivating
  355. motivations
  356. moved
  357. movement
  358. murdered
  359. national
  360. navigate
  361. ndca
  362. necessarily
  363. neck
  364. needed
  365. neighborhood
  366. nice
  367. normal
  368. novices
  369. number
  370. nyu
  371. obama
  372. obligation
  373. obligations
  374. offends
  375. open
  376. opened
  377. opposing
  378. opposition
  379. orientation
  380. outfit
  381. outrageous
  382. overview
  383. overweight
  384. owed
  385. owned
  386. owning
  387. pageant
  388. papers
  389. parents
  390. part
  391. partners
  392. parts
  393. passed
  394. pay
  395. peer
  396. peers
  397. people
  398. peoples
  399. perfect
  400. performance
  401. performing
  402. perry
  403. person
  404. phone
  405. photo
  406. photos
  407. picking
  408. picture
  409. pink
  410. place
  411. places
  412. plaintiffs
  413. point
  414. pointed
  415. police
  416. position
  417. post
  418. potential
  419. potter
  420. powerful
  421. powerpoint
  422. present
  423. presenting
  424. president
  425. pressures
  426. prestigious
  427. pride
  428. printed
  429. privilege
  430. problem
  431. professor
  432. professors
  433. program
  434. project
  435. projected
  436. projects
  437. promise
  438. prospect
  439. protect
  440. protection
  441. prove
  442. publicly
  443. punches
  444. purest
  445. pushback
  446. put
  447. queens
  448. queer
  449. question
  450. questioned
  451. radical
  452. rate
  453. rates
  454. reached
  455. ready
  456. real
  457. realities
  458. reality
  459. realize
  460. realized
  461. reason
  462. reasons
  463. received
  464. recognize
  465. recognized
  466. refer
  467. refuse
  468. religiously
  469. remember
  470. removed
  471. required
  472. research
  473. resource
  474. resources
  475. responded
  476. response
  477. rest
  478. restarted
  479. results
  480. revolves
  481. rich
  482. rights
  483. rocks
  484. rounds
  485. routine
  486. ruin
  487. ruined
  488. rumors
  489. résumé
  490. satan
  491. saxa
  492. scar
  493. scared
  494. school
  495. science
  496. search
  497. searched
  498. seek
  499. selfish
  500. seniors
  501. sense
  502. series
  503. service
  504. session
  505. settled
  506. sex
  507. sexual
  508. shame
  509. share
  510. shirt
  511. shirts
  512. shiva
  513. shocking
  514. short
  515. shorter
  516. shoulders
  517. showing
  518. sicilian
  519. single
  520. slightly
  521. slips
  522. slurs
  523. small
  524. smells
  525. smoke
  526. society
  527. sort
  528. sorts
  529. soul
  530. space
  531. speaker
  532. speech
  533. stage
  534. stand
  535. standards
  536. start
  537. started
  538. states
  539. steinhardt
  540. step
  541. stonewall
  542. stories
  543. story
  544. straight
  545. strength
  546. student
  547. students
  548. studied
  549. study
  550. studying
  551. stuff
  552. subject
  553. submit
  554. submitted
  555. suddenly
  556. sued
  557. summation
  558. sunday
  559. superlative
  560. support
  561. supported
  562. symbolic
  563. systems
  564. tackle
  565. talk
  566. talked
  567. tape
  568. taught
  569. teaching
  570. team
  571. ted
  572. telling
  573. tendency
  574. testing
  575. text
  576. thinking
  577. thought
  578. threat
  579. throw
  580. tight
  581. time
  582. times
  583. tired
  584. today
  585. trailblazer
  586. trailer
  587. trans
  588. treat
  589. treatment
  590. trouble
  591. truth
  592. turn
  593. unacceptable
  594. unapologetically
  595. understand
  596. understanding
  597. understood
  598. university
  599. valuable
  600. values
  601. vast
  602. victory
  603. video
  604. violence
  605. visibility
  606. visible
  607. vocabulary
  608. voice
  609. voices
  610. voter
  611. vowed
  612. wait
  613. walk
  614. walked
  615. wanted
  616. washington
  617. watch
  618. ways
  619. wearing
  620. weeks
  621. welcomed
  622. whispers
  623. white
  624. win
  625. wisdom
  626. women
  627. wore
  628. work
  629. worked
  630. working
  631. world
  632. worshiped
  633. write
  634. wrong
  635. yadda
  636. yeah
  637. year
  638. years
  639. york
  640. yorker
  641. young
  642. youth