On May 9th, I got up early and went to Target to find a plain white t-shirt. As boring as shopping for a plain white t-shirt sounds, I was nervous browsing through the various displays. My mind was full of thoughts about going to get my photo taken at NOH8 campaign’s Orlando photo shoot. This would be a symbolic culmination of ending years of estrangement; estrangement from myself, my heart, and a community I truly love.
The Importance Of People Like Ben
My friend Ben Patrick Johnson and I started following each other online somewhere in the midst of the ongoing Prop8 battle. I am sure I caught wind of who he is (a respected activist within the LGBT community) and just started following him online. One friend said, “You only follow that Ben guy because he’s always naked and HOT!” Well, to be clear, Ben is only sometimes naked, but most of the time only halfway naked. And well, even clothed he … maybe I should stop there. In response to this friend, at the time, I said “OH Noooo… he’s just an interesting person who does the gay activist thing in a different way; a way that will actually work to their benefit.”
The very first time I messaged Ben, it was some weird little greeting. I loved his response. It’s still my favorite response from a gay activist ever. With a very gracious intro he went on to say something along the lines of, “I have nothing but antipathy for what you are doing at Exodus and what Exodus stands for.” He then of course, being him, ended the message graciously.
Being a word person, I can’t tell you how happy I was because he used the word antipathy to begin with, and ecstatic he used it correctly! Wasn’t so fun to be a part of the receiving end of Ben’s “antipathy” but this is indicative of why I am drawn to follow his life online. He is fair, purposeful, eloquent, and thoughtful. He contributes to the overall discussion instead of consuming and regurgitating it as infotainment activism.
Plus, you get all that AND he is allergic to wearing shirts. He also has a handsome husband, TJ, that just adds to the mix another level of approachability. I like these guys a lot.
Last year, I interviewed Ben for a book I was working on (shelved until after my memoir book proposal is done). It will be included in a compilation of stories about love, relationships, life….that kind of stuff. During that time, we talked a lot about Prop 8. After hearing his heart my own was stirred up with deep emotion as years of questioning turned into my change of heart about marriage equality and being open to that possibility for myself.