This Inspirational, Out and Proud Moment brought to you by Jeremy Bredeson
Gender Identity and Pronouns
When did you know?
Around age 6-ish, I knew I was different. I didn’t have the word until my early teens, and by then, I knew everyone thought it was wrong, so I kept it to myself.
When did you come out?
I started the process around 18 or 19 and decided to tear off my closet doors at 21.
To whom did you come out first?
Myself, and a couple of friends.
How did your closest friends and family react?
Friends were awesome. My parents, though, took a while.
How has your life been enriched by the LGBTQ Community?
There are so many creative people in this community. Everyone thinks about the more visible creative people, like the drag queens, the actors, the musicians. I know countless artists – illustrators, sculptors, painters. One of the guys in my local community is one of the most amazing wood turners I’ve ever seen. The gay male knitting community (tiny but mighty!) has started retreats for men (all men, not just the gay ones). We do a lot of different things with creativity, and that makes us mighty.
What are the common misconceptions about being LGBTQ?
There are so many, but the big one that comes to mind at the moment is sports. People expect gay men to be anti-sports, probably because so many of us got bullied by jocks in high school. It’s just not true. Sure, there are a lot of guys who don’t want anything to do with sports, but there are LGBTQ softball, dodgeball, tennis, football, volleyball, and rugby leagues, and those are just the ones I know about. There’s a gay softball world series every year. Hundreds, if not thousands, of softball players and fans descend on a city for a week. It’s amazing. The gay rugby cup is named after Mark Bingham, one of the heroes of Flight 93. Not only are we great at sports, we’re super supportive of each other when we play, and we look amazing.
Describe the first time someone else read you (for better or worse) as LGBTQ.
I mean, I’ve been getting called a faggot for most of my life, mostly because I didn’t grow up sporty. However, the first time it happened after I came out, I was 22, singing karaoke in a bar with some friends. I mentioned to one of my friends that I thought one of the other singers was cute (and, incidentally, not wearing any underwear). Two hours later, this guy had left the bar, found out what I had said, and came back to find out who I was, because I was a fag and he wanted to beat the shit out of me. My friends stood up for me, his friends pulled him out of the bar, and we went back to singing.
Who was your first LGBTQ role model or elder, and how did they impact you?
I… don’t know. I don’t have a role model or elder that I can think of. I like to think that my friends are my role models. We build each other up and try not to tear each other down. We like to be an example to other people.
What is the biggest external issue or challenge facing the LGBTQ community today?
Not to put too fine of a point on it, but, honestly? The right-wing religious extremists and everything they touch. They try to demonize us, and all we want is equality and to be left the hell alone to live our lives.
The biggest internal issue or challenge?
Ourselves. As a community, we demand acceptance and diversity. When you get inside, though, there’s infighting, there’s discrimination, there’s shaming. That is unhealthy and it’s destroying us from within.
Are there any LGBTQ nonprofits whose work you especially admire?
Two, actually. While Dan Savage’s views may not mesh with mine all of the time, he did a great thing by starting the It Gets Better project. Also, the You Can Play project is amazing. It helps empower LGBTQ athletes and allies, in amateur, collegiate, and professional sports, and that’s incredibly important, seeing as how so much of our culture is rooted in sporting events.
Who is your personal Queer Hero?
Mark Bingham. He sacrificed himself to take down a plane that could have caused immense destruction. Instead of taking out a government building in Washington DC, he and his fellow passengers took out a Pennsylvania corn field. #RiseInPower
Do you have any advice for young queer folks who may still be defining their identity, coming out, or learning how to be their authentic selves in the world?
It really does get better. Find your tribe; they’re waiting for you. Embrace the community; we’re waiting for you. There are an infinite number of ways you can be part of us. Show us who you are.
How are you involved in or how do you give back to the LGBTQ community?
I am part of a group that puts together a week-long festival in southern Ohio for pagan men who love men (http://www.betweentheworlds.org). We’re on our 16th year this year, and we’ve had men from all over the US and some from Canada. We try (and usually succeed!) in creating queer male space without the internalized homophobia and divisiveness that seems to show up in bar culture.