Sunday, June 28, 2015


Pride Steps
Gillian Cornwall, c July 2014

Ultimately, we all become the victim of our own oppressive practices. Your best bet has always been to start, stay and finish with kindness.

In the face of your greatest fears, keep your kindness close, for in your kindness you will plant the seeds of reason.

I just entered a contest in which I had to say of whom I am most proud, and why, in order to win a box of chocolates. If I do win, I will have only one or two and give away the rest as I struggle to become a less large version of my current physical self! 

I had no idea what I would write for this contest as I started but, in light of everything I have been going through recently and in light of it being PRIDE season around the world, here is what I said:

"I am most proud of myself for making it through 35 years of LGBT* advocacy - making it through the street beatings, the jeers, the never feeling safe, the glacially-paced social, employment and political change, for being proud of myself when my family wasn't, for advocating for me and the LGBT* population everywhere I have been, despite the pain, the cost and the loss. I am proud that I have stayed this long, despite my sadness and weariness, realizing this is no longer my baggage to carry alone. I will hold it up and say, "This is what it has cost and more. Never forget." I am proud of who I have become and to know that our stories are worth hearing and acknowledging - that they must be heard so that those of us who have fought so hard for equality and those of us who still fight so hard, can heal. I am proud to know that we are powerful and our words are so much more valuable  than a box of chocolates. Thank you for this opportunity."

One of my next projects will be collecting the stories of people who have been oppressed, to ensure they are heard and acknowledged, to ensure that there is opportunity to heal so we can move forward with an understanding of what has passed. It is not truly healing without recognizing the past and where we want to go in light of it: who we have been, who we are now and who we would like to be - both as individuals and as a society of loving, caring, peaceful beings. 

This PRIDE season, I respectfully request that you ask someone, who has been fighting the good fight for awhile, what it was like and how they are. Listen to the stories and grow to understand the importance behind the rainbow. 

With love and respect and a wish for all of us to walk our healing paths.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. June 28, 2015
Self Portrait
June 2015


Susan said...

PRIDE takes me back to thinking about two men who I didn't know well and who were lost to us from AIDS in the early 90s. I was so out of touch in those days despite being in my early 30s - I hope that I was never unkind to them but I honestly had no idea what it was all about or how I should behave. The one that I knew better and that I used to go out for coffee/dessert with always confused me because he never let me eat any dessert that he hadn't finished - I didn't get it at all. I wish that I could go back and talk to them - ask about their lives and their courage - and be a better friend.

Gillian said...

Dear Susan,

Thank you for your thoughtful and deeply moving comment. The AIDS epidemic,during the 80s and 90s, took so many blameless souls from us. At first the medical profession did not understand. Some, for a time, did not care. Our own community divided and people would not even drink from glasses in the bars for fear of "catching" the disease. The lack of knowledge, the lack of ability to be able to discuss the issues and know the facts was as epidemic as the disease itself. My eldest brother lost almost every single one of his friends to AIDS. It was tragic and seemed overwhelmingly unconquerable. I remember losing a twenty year old friend who had only had a couple of partners in his short life. I remember the devastation his mother felt at his loss. We cannot go back, only to remember and honour those who have fallen in the battles for our human rights and equity.
Thank you for honouring your friends here by telling your story and remembering their place in your heart.

Thank heavens for the research and medical developments that have been made through the diligent work of scientists and doctors over the last few decades. May we reach a place where we are saying goodbye to AIDS forever and replacing it with world wide compassion and love regardless of who is in need of it.

Thank you for your bravery in telling your story and for sharing your good heart.