As midnight approaches on this last day of June, I thought I would reflect on the last 20 years.
First, I cannot believe it has been twenty years since the publication of Behind the Mask. It has been, to say the least, a crazy ride. I have lived in so many cities, and along the way have met many people. Some have been thru the moves I have made, some have been on personal travel, and the rest have been while bringing my presentation to a college, university, workplace, or a conference. They have been from all walks of life, all ages, and from all professions. They have been the highlights of my adventure, and they will never be forgotten.
However, what has touched me more than anything, are the letters from the thousands of people who have taken the time to write. From mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, professional athletes, members of the clergy, college students, doctors, and lawyers…thanking me for telling my story. Thanking me, this guy who grew up in the projects of Watertown Massachusetts, for giving them hope…not only for themselves but for their children. I never would have believed it if you told me back when I was young, that this would be my destiny, and at times I still don’t believe it now. To this day, after twenty years, I continue to receive emails and letters of thanks, and it continues to humble me. It is beyond my comprehension, that I have made an impact on the lives of so many people by just telling my story. The letters have been my inspiration to continue my journey, of not only speaking out about injustices on the LGBT community, but to make sure that we never ever give up speaking out. This will always be my mission. I might not always have the bully pulpit to speak from, but I will speak and I will never be silenced. I will never forget those who have attended my presentations, and their tears they have shed or the hugs they have given. I will remember the stories they have told about themselves, and their family, and how the room was so silent that you could hear a pin drop. I will always remember. I will never forget!
Yet, with all these experiences in these last twenty years, there is one that I will never get out of my mind. It will, as it did then, continue to be the one that touched my soul. It will stay with me until my last breath. It is the story of the young man from Central Missouri State University who told me that it was because of me he hadn’t taken his life. I will remember his tears, and the anguish on his face. I will remember that on that evening, my life changed forever…and that my purpose in life was given a new meaning!
I will always remember. I will never forget!
Thanks for reading, and remember,
Never Strike Out!