NEVER BLEND IN
How to live unlimited by labels
DAVID E. WATTERS
FOREWORD: STUART MILK
NEVER BLEND IN is an accessible book about achieving personal authenticity, a groundbreaking and vital book of exclusive celebrity and deeply personal non-celebrity interviews, which is aimed primarily at a young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning audience. The book, however, is also of value to educators, parents, family and mental health professionals seeking insight into the LGBTQ experience.
Role models from education, entertainment, law enforcement, medical and emergency services, politics, religion and sports have participated in this accessible and much needed discourse to illuminate the reader’s journey of self-discovery and to illustrate that living a life unlimited by labels will lead to personal, professional and spiritual fulfilment.
These candid stories and wise words are a powerful toolkit to encourage, inspire, uplift and give hope to those who need it most; those who may feel disenfranchised or who may lack self-belief.
Inspired by the life of Harvey Milk and with a foreword by his nephew Stuart Milk, this book includes original and insightful interviews with actors Alan Cumming OBE (Cabaret, Spy Kids, The Good Wife), Stephen Fry (Peter’s Friends, Wilde), Anthony Rapp (Rent), Colton Ford (The Lair), Marcus Patrick (My Wife & Kids, CSI: Miami, Passions and Dancing With The Stars), Scotch Ellis Loring (Frasier, Malcolm in the Middle, 24, Alias, Touched by An Angel) and Adele Anderson (Fascinating Aida); key equality advocates, educators and influencers of policy Sue Sanders (Schools Out), Charles Robbins (CEO, The Trevor Project), Stephen Williams MP, Jack MacKenroth (Project Runway, Queens of Drag: NYC), Rabbi Denise Eger, Lt. Dan Choi and veteran human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell; filmmaker Parvez Sharma (A Jihad for Love); musicians Darren Hayes (Savage Garden) and Levi Kreis (Tony Award winner for “Best Featured Actor in a Musical” for his role as Jerry Lee Lewis in the Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet) ; sporting greats, NBA star, John Amaechi (author of Man in the Middle) and Olympic swimmer Bruce Hayes; transgender trailblazers Calpernia Addams, the Rev David E. Weekley (author of In from the Wilderness) and Jamison Green (author of Becoming a Visible Man); Mental Health professionals, Gladeana McMahon, Antoine Spiteri and Dr. John Shafer; writers Tom Robb Smith (Child 44, The Secret Speech), Leslea Newman (A Letter to Harvey Milk), Linda Goldman (Coming Out, Coming In), Michael Musto (The Village Voice); Del Shores (Sordid Lives) and Stephanie Silberstein (Shades of Gay); representatives from organizations including The Trevor Project, The Harvey Milk Foundation, PFLAG, FireFLAG, The Gay Police Association and Schools Out and colleagues of Harvey Milk; Anne Kronenberg, Daniel Nicoletta and Tom Ammiano.
These stories of living authentically, with dignity and unlimited by labels will help readers to understand how self esteem determines the path they choose and that life need not be a self fulfilling prophecy when they improve self-concept, drive out fear and embrace new challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, eliminate self imposed limitations and cease dependence on others to provide validity.
David E. Watters
Stuart Milk, nephew of Harvey Milk and Equality Advocate, has said: “I love your work, which is vital to show the richness of embracing and celebrating our wonderful diversity. As Harvey would say, you’re bringing medicine into the world that the world needs! Thank you!”
Since graduating from The Institute of Education, University of London, David has gone on to train with LEAP, as a mediator, and is a qualified facilitator for The Pacific Institute. He is a writer on social inequality issues, is a key player in the Equal Love Campaign UK and author of the forthcoming book, NEVER BLEND IN which features key voices from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and which aims to inspire and encourage those who may lack self-esteem or who question their validity.
David is currently promoting a youtube campaign “Give ‘em Hope” and is asking individuals, couples and groups to make and share videos telling about the benefits of living with personal authenticity.
He has shared a platform with Stuart Milk and Peter Tatchell and is a supporter of 17-24-30, The Trevor Project, Schools Out and The Harvey Milk Foundation.
David E. Watters was recently profiled on 10,000 Couples as Someone You Should Know
COPYRIGHT NOTICE © TEXT & IMAGES
I think that out of everyone in society LGBT people, especially LGBT youth, are subjected to most negative energy and the most negative portrayals of themselves and so it’s really important for us as a community to give back and to let people see that the sun can shine
Stuart Milk, nephew of Harvey Milk and Equality Advocate, has said: “I love your work, which is vital to show the richness of embracing and celebrating our wonderful diversity. As Harvey would say, you’re bringing medicine into the world that the world needs! Thank you!”
I have worked with a myriad of Harvey Milk related researchers in recent years and I wish they were all as thorough and considerate as Mr. Watters. I trust him and his workmanship implicitly.
He (Harvey Milk) had great confidence in me; I really felt that the basic message was “you can do it”. He was a cheerleader first and then he would deconstruct content second. I think there was always this attention to helping somebody really feel that they can make their way.
If you look at his speeches that’s there; there’s really this broad stroke that’s about positivity and confidence so you’re on the right path in terms of carrying on his work that way.
For me as a care professional, working in chem-dependency, to have any kind of guidebook that talks about self-esteem or how to keep people from committing suicide…I’m all for it. The few kids that have shown up that had suicide ideation, quite honestly, I didn’t have a template for what to tell them so I had to rely upon my intuition but I have no idea if I’m doing the right thing. I definitely feel that the therapeutic community, the psychological therapeutic community has a role to play in LGBT civil rights and I applaud you for doing this.
I was reading some of your pages on your website and I thought, “This is the antidote to my suicidal friend. If he could just read this, it would help him rephrase what he is defaulting to now.”
For young people coming to terms with their sexuality it’s really important that they have positive, high achieving role models as a way of boosting their self esteem and confidence. This kind of book shares the experience of a very diverse group of LGBT people. Individual and collective experience offers the inspiration and motivation for LGBT people to do something worthwhile with their lives and live their dream.
There are two ways you can approach not fitting in. If you get to see it as a blessing, feeling like an Outsider can eventually give you the freedom and license to create your own world, follow your own goals, and make your own reality. I’ve always thought it must be a lot harder for those who effortlessly belong – how much stronger the temptation to just blend in and be a non-questioning sheep! Yes, there is pain. Feelings of rejection, confusion, self-doubt. But think of those negatives in a positive light: you have the chance to acquire resilience, fortitude, understanding and the realization but you have one life to live, so you absolutely have the right to live it your way!
It’s no shame to get help and inspiration from others, which is why David Watters ‘Never Blend In’, is so timely.
…some people growing up LGBT will certainly want affirmation that they are not alone, but they will also (quite rightly IMHO) resist the idea that there is a “type” and that they fall into a categorisation. Such is the human paradox, yearning to assimilated and demanding to be treated as unique and apart. A part of the tribe and apart from the tribe. There are plenty of young LGBT people I know or have known who hate the idea of any sort of ghetto or connection with others. I’m Jewish and I’ll fight against anti-Semitism, but I’ll also raise issues about Israel’s violations of human rights and express my happy atheism and contempt for much of Judaism… It’s not a question of “hurrah, there’s a role model, now I know who I am and who my people are and where I belong in the world.”
Role models are described as those individuals who we ‘aspire to’ and who provide strong and achievable targets that we can emulate in pursuit of our career or personal aims. This book breaks down the common stereotypes of gay people and unveils a more realistic perspective, chronicling the success of many gay role models that others aspire to.
Be inspired by the successful members of the gay community; real men and women. Read about the challenges they faced along the way, what helped to keep them going, and what it takes to make a small business, a life, a success.
This book illustrates the breadth and creativity of gays everywhere. It is a pioneering work and the success stories of inspirational gay role models from a wide variety of backgrounds should be made available in every library, every school. These are men and women you can aspire to but who have all shown just what it takes to become a role model – determination, courage and an unwavering desire to succeed.
“Never Blend In” brings you some amazing candidates all of whom have succeeded in very different ways. They each have inspiring stories to tell about their achievements and future ambitions, yet I noticed they all had one thing in common they were passionate about what they did.
So in reality gays are still struggling for acceptance and to reach the top of the ladder. However, I think for the gay who enters the celebrity arena or who decides to do his/her own thing - they no longer have to do it at the expense of their happiness- they can do things on their own terms. For many it will provide them with the work/ life balance that wasn’t available for them in the past. It’s vital we have gays in big business and we need more gays to be there. I think companies need to realize they can’t operate without gays.
But they do need to provide the very thing we all tend to take for granted – the basic right of being given the same opportunities and earning power as str8 men. We are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, lovers, and friends. We are like you.
Anthony Spiteri, BS, MSc, PhD (Psychology)
I am excited to order several copies of your book and share them with friends and family as gifts. I may try to use it with one of my classes that I teach at my college on the psychology of diversity.
DR JOHN R. SHAFER,Director of the Counseling Center and Professor at Franklin College of Indiana, President, Shafer Consulting Services
Gladeana McMahon, As one of the leading personal development and transformational coaches in the UK, Gladeana was instrumental in founding theAssociation for Coaching for which she now holds the positions of Life Fellow and Vice President.
“David is a rare individual. Someone with a cause but also someone who is pragmatic. He understands his area but also the way the world thinks and is not judgemental but someone who looks for a ‘win/win’. This is rare but is the measure of the man. I would heartily recommend him for his intelligence, people ability and pragmatism.
The Book that David Watters is proposing is long overdue as there is little written on the topic of LGBT issues.
Positive role models are important to individuals whether they be LGBT individuals talking about their experiences or the family and friends of such individuals who can model acceptance and positive affirmation. Therapists are likely to be interested in such a book in a bid to understand the specific needs of those who identify as LGBT considering the best ways to work with such individuals and/or their families. Academics are likely to find the book useful in considering issues around diversity and, of course, the general public will also benefit as a book of this sort educates the reader. This book will also help LGBT individuals to understand their situation and consider how to develop a deep and meaningful sense of self-worth. It will also help such individuals understand how best to help those around them to understand their situation as much as it will educate family and friends.
The LGBT community has often been portrayed in a less than favorable light – NEVER BLEND IN rips that inaccurate veil off, and offers a face and portrait of today’s LGBT community, its leaders, history, accomplishments and potential.
Herb Sosa, Editor|Publisher – Ambiente Magazine
& President – Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida
“David Watters is a hard-working, tireless advocate for social justice and I recommend him highly in any capacity!
We can never become complacent in our fight for equal rights and we need to remember the trailblazers who ignited the spark for the flame of progress that burns today.
As role models following in the legacy of others like Harvey Milk, we need to stand as proud confident people and continue to broaden the path of acceptance for those that follow us.
This project authored and edited by David Watters will help certainly reach out and touch a generation of young people who will be the ones to carry on his legacy by helping transform our perceptions of the LGBT community and lay the foundation for a healthy and whole sense of self.
Rabbi Denise L. Eger
Congregation Kol Ami
West Hollywood’s Reform Synagogue
…we are in the fight for our very lives. NEVER BLEND IN says that we are committed to living out in the open, as we have a right to do. NEVER BLEND IN, means never settle for second best or the notion that we are “second class citizens” I will NEVER blend in.
I always feel inspired by someone everyday. I think we should learn something new each day from anywhere or anyone. I’m inspired right now, by you, answering your intelligent questions Mr. David Watters. It’s not often I get to answer some great meaningful questions. So Bravo!!!
There’s plenty of times in this world where we can feel isolated and alone and anytime we can find a source of community, a feeling of being a part of something bigger than ourselves; that can provide tremendous inspiration and solace, then that’s invaluable.
“David is a person of unrivalled integrity, who has great passion for his art and for whom I have the greatest respect.”
Matthew Kolakowski, Curriculum Leader, Greenwich Community College
“David Watters is a tireless advocate of social justice and engaging writing. Working with David on a community service project in San Francisco, with him in England, was a breeze, fun and highly effective. I recommend his services, charm and, most importantly, passion for any advocacy needing to be done.” Melton Cartes, Chief Ad Guy, AnAdGuy.com
“I had the opportunity to work with David as part of his team in the performing arts department. During that time David had a great leadership styles that enable his staff to develop at their own pace, while maintaining a high standard for his team. His advice and support for CPD has been extremely beneficial which has resulting in me writing development programs. Furthermore, David’s passion on the subject of equality and diversity was very inspirational. With this in mind, I recommend David as a leader who can write about our unique experience’s in and outside the working environment. Hope to work with him in the near future.” Michael Noble, Owner, IyPSchool
“I can highly recommend David for his ethics, his talent, and his dedication to nurturing individuality and originality through his fine writing. David uses the gift of the written word to inspire leadership by preserving the memory of historical visionaries who dared to be different. His essays on Harvey Milk and his determination to “never blend” preserve an important man and time in history while encouraging all of us to realize that we all have the power to change history ourselves on a grass-roots level with community outreach and activism.” Joe Mannetti, Contract Clinician, Waterford Youth Services Bureau
“DAVID WATTERS is not a relative, although I’d be proud to be in his family. David is a fine writer and passionate advocate, a man who boldly uses his intellect, wit and sense of fairness to every project he undertakes. If you are looking for the spark to ignite your plan, call DAVID WATTERS.” Willie Watters, attorney/author
“…all that David does involves assisting people – any and all people – to live authentically, to no longer accept the judgments and limitations imposed on them by others, and to believe in themselves as valid individuals. To that end, he has recently undertaken two new endeavors: NBI Associates, an organization which empowers people to make personal and professional transformations, and the “Give ‘em Hope” video campaign on YouTube.” Extract from a profile of David Watters on 10,000 Couples by Rev. Heidi Mann. FULL PROFILE:http://10thousandcouples.com/issue/april-2011/article/someone-you-should-know-david-e-watters
Tag Archives: CHARLES ROBBINS
How and why author Stephanie Silberstein plans to support the Trevor Project
Many of us can take a lifetime to understand and “accept” ourselves, even with the support of enlightened peers and family members.
Just imagine how it must be for those who grow up in the darkness of a conservative environment, where there is an active resistance to diversity; where family and the wider community are intolerant to homosexuality or gender variance.
Developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erikson famously said, “Someday, maybe, there will exist a well-informed, well-considered, and yet fervent public conviction that the most deadly of all possible sins is the mutilation of a child’s spirit”.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people continue to live in a world where singular sexuality is promoted, binary definitions of gender prevail and where heterosexism dominates every aspect of culture.
For many individuals identifying as LGBT, there can be a social disconnection, not through choice but through their awareness of “otherness” and of a difference which is sadly still perceived as “less than”.
For those isolated individuals, who are or perceive themselves to be without family support, the feelings of invalidity and hopelessness can be overwhelming.
In 2010, the impact of this was all too clearly and shockingly illustrated, with the tragic deaths, through suicide, of so many desperately lost, tormented and disenfranchised young people, who could find no other alternative than to prematurely leave this world.
Charles Robbins, Executive Director and CEO of the Trevor Project had this to say, “Much like cancer used to be the unmentionable health epidemic; it’s now suicide and has been. Suicide, in America, is the third leading cause of death among youths in general and LGBTQ youths are up to four times as likely to attempt suicide”.
There are so many ways to engage in social change, to participate in assisting others, and it is vital that we recognize and support the numerous local, national and international organisations which exist to celebrate diversity, advocate equality and assist the vulnerable to achieve the self-belief and confidence to make better and more positive life decisions.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
They are determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including a nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone.
By providing these critical resources, The Trevor Project, are key players in actively advocating a future where possibilities, opportunities and dreams are the same for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Charles Robbins, who has greatly inspired my work as an Equality Advocate and is a vital contributor who has influenced the direction of my book, NEVER BLEND IN, told me:
Youths reach out to us in a time of crisis or when they are actually experiencing suicide ideation and our goal is, clearly if it is a high risk or rescue call, and a rescue would mean that there is imminent danger of them harming themselves, we would deploy rescue services to that youth.
Usually those calls are a one time relationship, meaning that the youth at some point in time in their life came to this kind of critical juncture, reached out to us, we were able to take the call and in some way provide some kind of help; whether it’s emergency medical services or more often it is reducing the risk level from a high or medium risk to a low or no risk.
What we found, in doing all that work, was that our relationship with our constituency was just that one phone call. So what we noticed and what we felt was missing was some kind of continuum of care and that’s why we decided to deploy the website, because it provided linkage for youths. One statistic that’s really interesting for us is that two thirds of the calls that originate, originate from non-urban areas in the US, so you can imagine these are the mid-West, the South, areas where there’s a higher concentration of conservatism and conservative religious backgrounds and not a lot of services.
In order for us to effectively tackle both homophobia and Transphobia, in order for the younger generation to feel worthy, valid and empowered, in order, let’s be blunt, to SAVE lives, we must all engage in actions which address discrimination and prejudicial attitudes in every area of our society; our schools and universities, our workplaces, our communities and our shopping malls.
We all have the potential to use our particular skills to educate and bring light to the world. Whatever those strengths, whatever those core character traits, there is something that each individual can do to influence change in the world.
One such person is author Stephanie Silberstein, who has utilised her considerable talents to create the novel Shades of Gay, an engaging work of sensitivity, compassion and humanity.
Shades of Gay is described by Silberstein as a young adult novel, written specifically for LGBT teens, which features three teenagers caught up in a love triangle of sorts: Arthur, who is gay; Mitch, who is bisexual; and Emily, who is asexual.
The novel is told from Arthur’s point of view, and examines the effects of homophobia on LGBT teen’s lives, as well as delving into coming-of-age issues such as leaving home and holding onto friendships for longer than appropriate.
Author, Stephanie Silberstein, created Shades of Gay in response to a close friend’s struggle to accept her orientation. The novel is intended to support LGBT teens who may be feeling isolated and/or suicidal and 10% of the novel’s profits will go to support the Trevor Project.
Stephanie told me:
My main interest as an LGBT advocate is in suicide prevention. My best friend nearly committed suicide, in the summer of 2008, because of non-acceptance of her sexual orientation. Even at times when she was not acutely suicidal, she was suffering and hurting.
Nobody should be in that kind of pain just because they don’t happen to be heterosexual.
I decided to write my novel, Shades of Gay, in honor of her struggles. It is for her and for all the people who still suffer from depression/suicidal thoughts and impulses because of being LGBT.
Somewhere along the way, I learned that her situation is not at all uncommon; in fact, 1 out of 3 suicides are LGBT related. At this point, I realized my mission was bigger than writing a book for LGBT young adults. I wanted to dedicate my life to lowering the suicide rate in the LGBT community.
This issue has become even more important to me now because I’m realizing that it is not a ‘hot button” issue like many of the legal issues we are dealing with. I believe this issue is just as important and needs as much press time/advocacy time as marriage equality. Our community is losing members to suicide on a daily basis. My mission is to change that.
There are many ways to make a difference, many methods to repair the world. It’s not necessarily about writing a book and it’s not even about waving a placard or marching in a parade, unless that’s your style. Instead, it’s about finding the correct method of communication for you.
Sign that petition, tweet and retweet your views, repost a powerful YouTube video or an article you’ve found, Facebook or MySpace it, write to your political leaders, talk to, write to, email if you have to politicians, police forces, health services, broadcasters and employers so that they too can all positively influence the way that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are perceived.
Above all, take a moment to view The Trevor Project’s website where you can access information on their mission, values and service provision portfolio.
We should not be complacent and presume that, without our support, the Trevor Project will continue to exist. They are literally a lifeline providing support services to those who have all but lost hope; yet who have, in their time of crisis, found the courage to reach out.
Charles Robbins tells us why the Trevor Project needs public support and emphasises the need for us all to remain vigilant:
The single most important act that anyone can do is to send a contribution because we are not government funded; we rely solely on the goodwill of the general public. It’s an investment that goes a long way because it really only costs about fifteen dollars to answer one call and, therefore, one fifteen dollar gift is literally saving one life. Financial contributions matter and then also what we’ve posted on our website are the warning signs of suicide and it’s really important for us to have people read what those warning signs are for two reasons:
- 1. Should anyone ever have a friend or family member who exhibits those signs, you really need to know what to do and
- 2. It’s very empowering for people to be able to talk about the subject of suicide, because it’s often, it’s like the hidden epidemic, it’s something that a lot of people just don’t talk about and so to be able to arm yourself with some educational talking points I think is just a very, very helpful way in helping to reduce suicide across the country, here in the United States, and I’m sure anywhere else.
Each and every one of us has an obligation to take responsibility for making our society safer, fairer and more inclusive and we should not rely on the good will and hard work of others to secure that just and equal society, whilst complaining that we ourselves are powerless.
We can no longer wait for another Harvey Milk to follow or rely solely on the high profile leaders of this world, the pioneers, a visionaries, to fight our fight; but instead must learn ways to be tenacious, tireless and determined advocates for social equality ourselves.
We must, ourselves, find the strength, resolve and determination to lead and influence the change we want to see, to bring hope to those who have none. Somehow in some way we too can be capable of great things.
As Stephanie Silberstein says, “I live by the principle of Tikkun Olam. God calls Jewish people to repair the world. According to the Kaballah, when we do mitzvot (good deeds), we reclaim the lost pieces of God. In addition, on a personal level, I feel my life has meaning when I have helped and/or positively affected others. So I strive to make people’s lives better and by so doing make the world a little better”.
Save Lives/Take Action
If you are feeling suicidal, please call their 24-hour lifeline immediately at 866-4-U-TREVOR [866.488.7386]. All calls are confidential and toll-free from anywhere in the United States 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
Shades of Gay – Author Interview: http://vimeo.com/14876927
Shades of Gay KINDLE EDITION:
HELLO ALL…HOPING THAT 2011 HAS STARTED WELL. I’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR NEWS AND, IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING EQUALITY RELATED GOING ON PLEASE POST IT ON THE PAGE.
THE BOOK IS ALMOST DONE ( I KNOW I KEEP SAYING THAT!) AND NBI ASSOCIATES ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS.
I HOPE THAT YOU WILL HELP ME TO HELP OTHERS, ONE MIND AT A TIME, BY REPOSTING LINKS TO MY WEBSITE: http://www.nbiassociates.co.uk
HAVE A GREAT FEBRUARY … I PROMISE TO LEAVE YOU IN PEACE FOR ANOTHER MONTH!!! I APPRECIATE YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT.
BEST WISHES, DAVID
NEVER BLEND IN
29 January 2011: NBI Associates are now on Skype. Add us for free consultation call and ongoing one to one support. Skype Username: never.blend.in
28 January 2011: Recent interviews for the book, NEVER BLEND IN, include Parvez Sharma (A Jihad for Love) http://www.ajihadforlove.com/home.html, Assemblyman, Tom Ammiano http://www.tomammiano.com/, Lt. Dan Choi http://www.ltdanchoi.com/, photographer; Mike Ruiz http://www.mikeruiz.com/ and the incredibly inspirational and candid, Liza Friedlander http://www.lizaproductionsnyc.com/.
14 January 2011: David E. Watters has been selected, by Vodaphone, from 11,000 applicants to take part in the World of Difference Program. He has chosen to support The Albert Kennedy Trust.
The application involved writing a detailed proposal, a telephone interview and references from at least two referees; thanks go to Mike Colby & Stuart Milk (The Harvey Milk Foundation) and Charles Robbins (The Trevor Project) for supporting this successful application. WHY? READ HERE: http://neverblendin.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/why-i-support-the-albert-kennedy-trust/
1 January 2011: Recent articles for http://www.ambiente.us; THE TREVOR PROJECT | REPAIRING THE WORLDhttp://www.ambiente.us/010011Trevor.html and EQUAL LOVE CAMPAIGN UK – ECHR LEGAL BID ANNOUNCED http://www.ambiente.us/010011EqualLove.html
31 December 2010: Article in http://www.10thousandcouples.com ; Expanding Equal Love in 2011 UK Style http://10thousandcouples.com/issue/january-2011/article/expanding-equal-love-in-2011-uk-style