I always had a clear idea of what I wanted to do in my life: connect mainstream America to the segment of my life through writing. More than anything I wanted to start a conversation about being gay and start to illustrate that it wasn’t so different than being straight—that love wasn’t a tangible trinket easily labeled or weighed; I wanted to demonstrate that love lived beyond the stringent terms of a heterosexual paradigm.
I never intended becoming a social worker.
Later, I realized how close my goal of being a writer working to unearth heterosexual social change was connected to working to prevent devastating effects of family violence on society. As you read that sentence you may be asking, how did you not connect those pieces? But when you’re reporting to grant funders, attempting to convey simple concepts about abuse to the general public and comforting victims, there's hardly time to see family violence as one piece of a larger system of oppression.
I began to refer to my life in two parts: Before Atlanta and After Atlanta. Before Atlanta, I saw distance between myself and the work I did. It was like watching someone on film: still being moved, inspired and determined—but without seeing my role. After Atlanta, I recognized how much of my childhood, definition of manhood, sexuality, relationships and overall decisions were related to why I did the work I did and how much my work was associated to how I defined myself. For so long, I treated them as separate entities until the pieces connected and my mosaic core was revealed.
With this shift, I began to identify other realities too: it wasn't easy working in the movement to end violence against women as a man, even a gay one. There are limitations—cement ceilings—that exist (and rightly so) so women will continue to lead the work. But there was also considerable buzz about engaging men, bringing them into the discussion, working together, but there was hardly an effective movement to do that--for a lot of reasons.
I craved a solution and then began to outline Pivot. I wanted to create a space for men, BIPP professionals and the many other advocates who are committed to ending violence against women to engage in the crucial conversations that will build momentum for creating better BIPPs and meaningful engagement from men.
So let’s begin.