April 30th 1997, TV character and actor Ellen DeGeneres comes out as Lesbian. Shockwaves rippled through the entertainment industry to a point it could never return.
Fear became a blanket excuse to soon after cancel the show putting a lot of talented people out of work. But that very day I knew in my 12 year old self that everything I was feeling was real and I was no longer ALONE. What Ellen did that very day changed the ideological landscape into a human being landscape. No more could our community be subjugated by archaic ideology. Our voices could finally be heard.
Since it is Pride month I wanted to reach out to the voices and activists moving the LGBTQ+ community forward.
My first call was to 18 year old Twitter/YouTube sensation & Social Media Influencer Steve Rizzio;
Me: So Steve Rizzo the man, myth, the legend that has cracked Twitter and almost broke it with all of these followers. About 14-15 months ago you came out as gay and a part of the LGBTQ community. How does that make you feel?
Rizzo: “It was definitely scary at first, um.. you definitely feel like you are by yourself for a long time because you know it is different as a child, realizing you are different then people you see around you.”
Rizzo: “It felt like a good release to finally be able to share with the world who I really am”
Me: Do you believe that people; let’s say Colton Haynes as an example. Do you believe that him coming out and being proud about his husband is a change that should be revered within our community?
Rizzo: “Oh definitely! Between having TV Shows like “The Fosters” that you know come on TV and show a gay child, a teenager that is going to Proms with another guy, stuff like that & Colton Haynes like you mentioned, when he came out is was not a shock but a proud moment for the whole community”
Me: How can you help the next generation to feel empowered to be their 100% authentic selves?
Rizzo: “I started through social media, that’s how I found myself and become more comfortable with myself. So I would tweet little things like how I loved Troye Sivan’s Blue Neighborhood & what it meant, and I wouldn’t be afraid to tweet about this stuff & how I felt. Through that I have had follows message me, they find my content and relate to it so they message me explaining how they are in the closet and I don’t know how my parents are going to be, can you help me out, give me tips? I do my best & tell them that if you are not 100% ready you don’t have to. Best to plan ahead and visit your future, so I think through that content spreading the more people I reach the more people that can get a little more insight to help them better embrace themselves more. Through that change I think I can definitely help others in the future, at least I hope so.”
From 1969 Stonewall, to 1977 Harvey Milk, to 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges; the LGBTQ+ Community has been fighting vociferously towards equality FOR ALL. These pivotal and momentous markers within our history have come at a deep cost but these sacrifices will never be in vane nor forgotten.
So as Pride month kicks off and the LGBTQ+ community comes together all across the globe in solidarity we must celebrate our successes as well as recognize our failures. The fight for equality is fluid and ongoing, so although we have made strides and big successes we must continue to move forward for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer folk all across this beautiful world.
Blog post by: Joey Lopez-Powell