Sunday, May 07, 2006

With The Turn Of A Page, A New Chapter Begins...

In 1986, once I had made the Great Escape out of the clutches of the gay community in Center City and into the vast wasteland that is Northeast Philadelphia - I quickly realized that I simply couldn't just disconnect from the culture.

Sure, I pulled away from all things Philly - but to fill that void, I began more regular trips to NYC. I had always loved the City, but sadly I really only saw it at night. I vowed that I would figure out a way to get involved with NYC, even while being a resident of little ol' Philly.

In 1988, I volunteered myself to Heritage of Pride - the group that produces NYC's annual gay pride events each June. It was such a worthwhile experience for me - since I not only got a chance to meet tons of new faces, but I felt as if I was doing someting positive for our community ... versus just supporting the nightlife scene and my own various addictions.

The rush was pure and I poured myself into helping to plan the 1989 events - which happened to be the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. There was plenty to do and volunteers were needed everywhere. The fact that I was volunteering from another city made the experience even stronger - - a number of times I was used as the 'guilt card' by HoP members ... "this man found time and he doesn't even live here!"

Little did they know that I was more grateful then they were to have this opportunity. It allowed me to stay focused at a time when my world was being erased daily. At this point in my life I felt like that cartoon, in which the animator is erasing as fast as the cartoon players can keep up. Each time I looked back, I felt as if more of my past was gone.

So - I looked ahead. And, until this blog project began in January, I've rarely looked back. Which is why I guess I've enjoyed this experience of reflecting and remembering. I'm glad that you have followed me through these memories ... it somehow brings it all together for me.

So, thank you.


brandy101 said...

OMG - I know EXACTLY what you mean about being greatful for the opprtunity to help; it is incredibly "theraputic" - gives one a chance to channel nervous energy, talents, etc. for a good cause and provides worthwhile and healthful distraction from negatives in our lives.

What kind of stuff did you do? Prepare/mail flyers? DJ for fundraising events? Bake cookies for a bake sale? Let us know ! :)

Robert Drake said...

my role was in media relations - as it was the 20th anniversary of Stonewall, media was represented from around the globe and I worked with others to secure media credentials, create press packages and media opportunities and interviews, and to help coordinate the media's coverage of the parade, rally and dance at the pier... :)

bake sale??? hehe

Anonymous said...

This was a turning point for you. I have had once such major turning point myself and several smaller ones. Thanks for sharing yours.

~Liz XO