June is national LGBT Pride month. Last week, I was one of those who screened the documentary, Out In America.
OUT IN AMERICA is an uplifting collection of unique, transformative stories and inspiring personal narratives told through the lens of the country’s most prominent LGBT figures and pioneers, as well as many average, yet extraordinary, citizens from gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. The program weaves together diverse stories — from urban and rural America, from the heartland to New England, from San Francisco to Harlem.
The film will be broadcast in Hampton Roads tomorrow, Tuesday, June 4th, at 9pm on WHRO. I urge you all to watch it.
There were things in that movie that I hadn’t thought about in years. One was the devastating impact that AIDS had on the community in the 1980s and 1990s. I found myself remembering all of those who were lost as the disease swept through. (I briefly served on the board of one of the community groups dedicated to taking care of those with AIDS.) It was heartbreaking to see so many young men die.
Perhaps none of the losses affected me as much as my friend, Bill. I think of Bill often because of a piece of jewelry that I wear every day.
There used to be a store on Colley Avenue called Lielin Jewelers, a combination of the first names of the two women who founded the shop. In addition to selling pre-made stuff, they made custom jewelry. For my 10th anniversary in 1991, I received a custom ring they made, which was a takeoff of a commercial one they sold. About the same time, Bill had custom one made based on that same ring. It was amazing to see the two rings – different but yet the same – side by side and Bill and I always talked about the rings every time we saw each other. (I know of at least two other rings that mine inspired.)
Bill didn’t live long after we got the rings. He was already sick when we got them. But I can still see the gleam in his eye when he first saw mine – because he had been in the shop when mine, a gift, was being made.
I’m sure I missed part of the film because my mind wandered to Bill. So I’ll be watching again tomorrow night.