This Monday, October 11, 2010, Key Westers will gather at noon along Truman Waterfront to send out a message of acceptance and encouragement to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens in distress around the world due to intolerance where they may be living.
“If you are over 18, gay, and experiencing hopeless lack of acceptance, come home to Key West. We have a place for you here,” says Mike Mongo, president of the Key West Gay & Lesbian Community Center. “You have to see what life is supposed to be like if you are gay, and in that regard Key West is a model community for the rest of the world.”
The idea for the outreach came about in response to the critical number of suicide deaths by gay youth in the past month, including 18-year old Tyler Clementi. Clementi was a freshman at Rutgers University whose roommate secretly filmed and “outed” him on the internet. Upon learning of this, Clementi walked off the George Washington Bridge late-last month.
“October 11 is National Coming Out Day. It is also the 10 anniversary of Key West’s mandating our official city philosophy, which is All people are created equal members of ONE HUMAN FAMILY, shares Mongo. “If where you live is so unaccepting as to provoke a life-ending response, as a community we have decided you should come home to Key West.”
Key West has, throughout its 500 year history, been home to indians, pirates, pioneers, wreckers, immigrants, artists, poets, writers and eccentrics (many of whom were LGBT). Says One Human Family founder and Center board member JT Thompson, “We are a multi-cultural island that actually welcomes and encourages diversity. That’s why Key West’s official philosophy of ONE HUMAN FAMILY is so appropriate. We are the first US city to have had an openly gay mayor, and the first city anywhere to promote equal rights, dignity, and respect for all people worldwide. And Key West is America’s most inclusive and accepting community, a genuine ‘safe haven’ for LGBT individuals, and an inspiration for other communities.” For more background on the ONE HUMAN FAMILY campaign, visit onehumanfamily.info.
In order to accommodate arriving gay young people, the Center has been working with the Key West Business Guild, the Key West Chamber, volunteer organizations, and national advocacy groups. “You just get here,” Mongo encourages, “Come take in a big gulping breath of One Human Family. In the very least, give yourself a chance and come see how life can be. Key West is not just gay-friendly, Key West is all-welcome. We want young people who haven’t had a chance to see how life can and is supposed to be — and is going to be—to come see why Key West is enthusiastically and proudly known as “the Gayest Place on Earth. Once they see, they can stay here or leave empowered and go make a difference in other communities.
“If this outreach reaches and saves one young life”, the president of the Key West Gay & Lesbian Community Center points out, “Than we will have succeeded. But above all else, we are rallying to let these LGBT people in the US know that no matter what they all have at least one place in the world to call home.”
If you are 18 years or older, gay, and hopelessly unaccepted where you live, come to Key West