Social media from a 50-something man

Gayly Life Columnist Bruce Hartley. Facebook photo.

by Bruce Hartley
Life Issues Columnist

This column is unique. I pulled excerpts from my social media postings during the showing of When We Rise on ABC. I hope all older LGBTQ people can educate social media friends about our world.

We are living in a world that has come a long way and we have a long way to go. I hope this inspires you to utilize your social media to educate your family and friends from a personal perspective that is not argumentative. If you did not view When We Rise yet, please check it out on streaming and On Demand services.

First post during Part One: To my 500+ FB friends: Please watch When We Rise and think about the struggles LGBTQ people have endured for many years. Please pay attention and realize we are not evil. We are God's children just as you are.

Reply made in the post: I think back to high school and when I realized I was gay. I was SO ashamed. I was told I would go to Hell, never have a family and would die of AIDS. It was frightening. I was lucky to find a special guy (who I won’t name publicly) who felt the same as me. We found safety/solace together… Now I am living my authentic self and I have a wonderful partner named Bill.

Post made during Part Two: Remember this is set during the 1970's. The promiscuity displayed was different then for both gay and straight people than it is in 2017. The free sex, AIDS, STD's and other horrible things were a large part of [what] forced me into the closet. This program is about real history. It's messy, sad and frightening, but without it - I would not be the Christian gay monogamous man that I am in 2017. My partner Bill Grider and I are old fashioned soul mates. We are really no different than our married parents. We just happen to be two men.

Post prior to watching Part Three: Thank you to my wonderful students at ECU GSA / PRIDE who listened to my stories of being closeted in high school and living through fear, bullying and hate. They humored me and listened to my stories and compared them to what they are seeing on #WhenWeRise.

Post made just before the conclusion: After 50 years of being silent - it's refreshing to be able to be open and continue the activism for human rights.

Post following conclusion: This mini-series…is a snapshot of a community that I claim without any regret or fear. I've come a long way since being bullied, called a "sissy and being teased for not being manly enough." God has been by my side since childhood and He still is today. He made me and loves me. I love Him. Thank you to my partner Bill Grider and our families who love us both and see how much we love each other.

Feedback from my Mom in reply to the above post: I love you my son, with all my being. I will always stand with you and behind you to lift you up when you feel weak. God loves you too!

In closing, my hope is that if you will try to educate others via your social media in a nonthreatening manner that you can make a difference to family and friends. Education is an important step in gaining acceptance and understanding. I used these hashtags following each post to help people become better informed: #LoveIsLove #LGBTQ #NoHA8 #HRC #GodIsLove #WhenWeRise.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly – April 5, 2017 @ 3:10 p.m.