by David Watters
Never Blend In: The Legacy of Harvey Milk is a unique collection of inspirational interviews with well known and everyday people who represent the great diversity within the LGBT Community.
The research, supported by PFLAG and The Trevor Project, FFLAG (UK), The Gay Police Association (GPA) and Schools OUT (UK), tackles the issue of teenage suicide and the disenfranchisement often felt by LGBT youth.
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 self- efficacy.
Some of those included in the book are Alan Cumming, John Amaechi, Calpernia Addams, Stephen Fry, Darren Hayes, Parvez Sharma, Harvey Milk colleagues Anne Kronenberg & Danny Nicoletta and a foreword by his nephew Stuart Milk.
Openly LGBT and successful role model figures can play an enormous part in highlighting the wealth of possibilities available to young people. These people, who are successfully modelling admirable qualities and character traits such as determination, diligence, vision and consistent effort, can only serve to inspire and encourage the younger generation, or anyone questioning their validity, to lead a balanced, fulfilling and dignified life.
Each chapter is prefaced with sound advice and guidance on how self-worth determines potential.
Life need not be a self-fulfilling prophecy and by recognising that our “truth” has been shaped through our relationships, our environment and our experiences, we can begin to change our perceptions, heighten our self-esteem and move toward our personal and professional goals with clear vision and purpose.
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, 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 realisation 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.
“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!”
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.
In “Never Blend In” David Watters has brought together a number of role models in one publication featuring successful gay artists, scientists and entrepreneurs, who share their experiences and take you on their journey. These are men and women with whom you can relate, whose stories will inspire and motivate you and leave you ready to move forward, both personally and professionally.
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 realise 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, friends. We are like you.
Anthony Spiteri, BS, MSc, PhD (Psychology)
The book NEVER BLEND IN is a provocative look into the lives of successful people who live in a world where the odds are stacked against us. It is important to give hope to the younger generation with diverse sexual orientations to see that we can be happy, healthy, and successful players in this game we call life. I hope by telling my story in this book, I can, in some small way, make life easier for those who march to the beat of a different drum. I am a rebel with a cause…you can either march with me, or step out of my way.
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
“Never Blend In,” is so absolutely crucial to our very survival. For when we first discovered our difference, we believed we were alone. This is why statistically, gay teen suicide attempts are four times that of heterosexual youth, and for every completed suicide by a gay youth, there are between 100-200 attempts that are made by other gay teens. Astoundingly, one-third of ALL teenagers who commit suicide do so because they are gay. In America, we have had as many as 11 teenagers a day commit suicide due to their sexual orientation! “Never Blend In” provides a guiding light for all LGBT people (in fact, for all non-LGBT people as well) because it demonstrates that not only are you not alone, but that you too can rise to attain your most desired dreams. There is nothing and no one that can hold you back. Harvey Milk paved the way for us all to be able to be ourselves and to simultaneously provide a role model for others. Whether you are the parent, uncle, or cousin of a gay child, or friend of a gay adult, the stories presented here give a unique insight into the relationships we cherish. You do not need to be gay to be inspired by the lives of these amazing heroes, whose stories are told, often for the first and only time, in “Never Blend In.”
This book is crucially important because we need to continually shed light on the struggles and adversity facing the LGBT community. 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.