GAILY FORWARD..... By Carlin Langley

"COMMUNITY"... We hear that word used alot among the gay friends and acquaintances we
have. What exactly does the word "community" mean to you? Of course we all know that it has
its root in the word "commune". Webster's defines "community" as "a group of people with a
common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society." That certainly sounds
very academic. But what does "community" mean to you personally? Where do you fit into the
"community" as you percieve it?

Community can mean several things. It can simply relate to the local area we live in, here in St.
Louis. Many believe themselves to be just a small part of the local picture, if they feel a sense of
community at all. They only want to participate in local events just for the fun of it, believing that
what goes on in the larger outside world has no effect on them and their existence... kind of a
"live and let live" policy. And that's fine if that's all the more involved you want to be, but it still
doesn't change the fact that what is going on in the outside world IS having an effect on you!

Ellen DeGeneres' "coming out" on national TV was a milestone event in the history of Gay
America! As was the Disney Corporation extending it's corporate benefits to its gay employees,
the same as to its straight ones. Even here in St. Louis, the fact that we can go down to the City
License office and register and receive a "Domestic Partnership" license, is really a giant leap
forward in gay rights. Even Timothy McVeigh's case, mentioned in my last article, has made
national headlines and he's been on every major news show and talk show in the 2 weeks since it
came out.  But all of these things took place due to one simple factor.

Someone got involved. Someone thought to themselves, maybe one person CAN make a
difference. And whether that difference is of monumental proportions like McVeigh's is growing
to be, or simply to make our local GAY PRIDE FEST a better place to be this summer, or
provides one more slot filled by volunteering at the Center, or puts one more person handing out
SAFE SEX packets outside of a bar as a volunteer for EFA, it can make a difference.

Being gay can mean much more than just going out to the gay bars and seeing who you can hook
up with for tonite, this month or maybe even for your lifetime. If you're already partnered, you
might feel no reason to get involved in anything. You've found what you were looking for and are
happy just being with each other! (and I'm jealous!!) But these issues still affect you, with regards
to tax deductions that would be more beneficial if you could declare your domestic partnership
and file as a couple. Or even as to how the larger St. Louis community sees you and other gay
couples or individuals and how we all are perceived and accepted.

YOU, YES YOU.... Holding this magazine and reading this article. YOU ARE IMPORTANT!!!
Get involved in "the community". WE, the community, need you. We need your input, your
ideas, your sweat, your support or opinions on gay issues. Get involved in Gay Pride. Get
involved in the Gay Bowling League. Join the Sunday Gay AOL Brunches. JOIN in the
community. I'll see you out there as we go "GAILY FORWARD" together!!

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