My name is Boo Tyson and I was one of those young people who stood in line in the back alley to get into David’s Lounge, back in the days when “the bar” was typically the only public gathering place to find other queer people. Today, we live integrated lives in ways that young person in line did not even dare to imagine. And, yet, this does not mean that the struggle for full equality and inclusion ended; it has and is evolving. Serving on the Board of the Frank Harr Foundation gives me a way to be part of that evolution and to, hopefully, continue to make room for LGBTQIA persons to live full and integrated lives.
When I came out in 1979 in eastern North Carolina, the daughter of a public-school teacher and a United Methodist minister, I had no idea how much stamina and strength of purpose it was going to take to be able to live as I do now – an out lesbian woman who rarely even has to “come out” anymore because I just live out. It has been a journey, full of love and joy, but also one of struggle and pain – both internally and externally. The 1970s women’s music singer Meg Christian once said, “great wisdom through painful experience – it’s an inside job,” which is something that resonates for me, even today. For me, it is an ongoing work of art to figure out how to integrate my full self into my family, friends, work and overall social environments.
Having now been out 40 years (how did that happen?!), along the way, I worked hard to remember to make room and a way for those who come behind me in the struggle. I also came to be aware of how I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me. Even with our flaws and shortcomings, I am proud to be part of this alphabet family – LGBTQIA people – queer people – whose struggle for full equality and inclusion lies at the heart of the Frank Harr Foundation’s mission.