First and foremost, I want to personally thank the Human Rights Campaign for the incredible work that they've done and the work they continue to do ,not only here in Washington state but across the country and around the world。 As we all know this work is critical。 It's life changing。 It's life saving。
It is my great honor and priviledge to be here tonight, to count myself a member of this community。 It is also something of a surprise
I've had a complicated relationship with that word: Community。 I've been slow to embrace it。 I've been hesitant, been doubtful。 For many years, I could not or would not accept that there was anything in that word for someone like me - like connection and support, strength, warmth。 And there are reasons for that。 I wasn't born in this country, I didn't grow up in any one particular religion, I have a mixed race background, and I'm gay。 Really, it's just your typical, All-American boy next door。
It has been natural to see myself as an individual, it's been a challenge to imagine that self as part of something larger。 Like many of you here tonight, I grew up in what I would call "survival mode。" When you are in survival mode, your focus is on getting through the day in one piece。 And when you are in that mode at age five, at 10, at 15 there isn't a lot of space for words like "community," for words like "us" and "we。" There is only space for "I" and "me。" In fact, words like "us" and "we" not only sounded foreign to me at five and 10, at 15, they sounded like a lie。 Because if "us" and "we" really existed, if there was really someone out there watching and listening and caring, then I would have been rescued by now。 That feeling of being singular and different and alone carried over into my 20s and into my 30s。
When I was 33, I started working on a TV show that was successful not only here in the states but also abroad, which meant over the next four years I was travelling to Asia, to the Middle East, to Europe and everywhere in between, and in that time, I gave thousands of interviews。 I had multiple opportunities to speak my truth, which is that I was gay, but I chose not to。 I was out privately to family and friends, to the people I learned to trust over time, but professionally and publically I was not。
Asked to choose between being out of integrity and out of the closet, I chose the former. I chose to lie. I chose to dissemble, because when I thought about the possiblity of coming out, about how that might impact me and the career I worked so hard for , I was filled with fear. Fear and anger and a stubborn resistance that had built up over many years.
When I thought about that kid somewhere out there who might be inspired or moved by me taking a stand and speaking my truth, my mental response was consistantly, No, thank you. I thought, I've spent over a decade building this career,alone,by myself. And from a certain point of view, it's all I have, but now I'm supposed to put that at risk to be a role model, to someone I've never met, who I'm not even sure exists. It did not make any sense to me. It did not resonate at the time.
Also, like many of you here tonight, growing up I was a target. Speaking the