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Yep, I have a mental illness

There are many things to be happy about right now in my life. I have a job I love (and I have a job, period), I’m in love, I have good friends and a family that loves me, and a cat that has adopted me and makes me smile when she rolls over on her back so I will rub her belly. And I don’t have to worry about the basics such as food and shelter.

I can’t complain, people will say. And right now, I really can’t.

But it’s not always like this for me. More than a 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I spent a couple stints in psychiatric wards and struggled ferociously with regaining my sanity.

Those weeks in the hospitals were pure hell, and every night when I take my meds, I am reminded I have a preexisting condition that makes me a threat to health insurance companies.

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Why LGBT people are the 99 percent, too

As LGBT people, we are unfortunately used to living in the minority. But as economic protest movements spread from Wall Street to Atlanta and around the world, we are firmly in the majority: We, too, are the 99 percent.

The slogan of the Occupy Wall Street movement comes, of course, from staggering statistics about the divide between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the rest of us.

According to Think Progress, this richest 1 percent owns 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, takes home 24 percent of national income, owns 50 percent of stocks, bonds and mutual funds; has only 5 percent of the nation’s personal debt; and their share of national income is higher now than at any other time except the 1920s.

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Party out of bounds

Pride kickoff party at the Georgia Aquarium

"I've never seen so many excited gays before," observed a sweaty reveler on the pulsing dance floor at the Atlanta Pride party at the Georgia Aquarium. His tattooed friend looked around and deadpanned, "Or so many terrified fish."

I had never been inside an aquarium before--just outside as a demonstrator. I only learned of this gala when I arrived from Virginia to work PETA's booth at the gay pride festival in Piedmont Park. I found it ironic that my seemingly sophisticated subculture would celebrate freedom in a building that celebrates captivity. My first thought was to stand at the entrance with a protest sign, but a friend on the guest list suggested that I accompany him and have a civil word with the organizers in hopes of opening their hearts and minds to choosing a less oppressive venue next year.

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‘Party Out of Bounds’ way out of bounds of reality

Party at Georgia Aquarium

An opinion piece by Dan Mathews, published this week in the Huffington Post, gave a distorted and inaccurate portrayal of a recent event at Georgia Aquarium and made inappropriate accusations based more on his detractor opinion than fact.

In the article, “Party Out of Bounds,” Mr. Mathews, a staffer for animal rights extremist organization PETA, accused Georgia Aquarium of subjecting the animals in our care to the “torture” of “earsplitting” and “pounding” music at the kickoff party for Atlanta’s Gay Pride weekend. He also mischaracterized the event itself, insulting our courteous and thoughtful guests by referring to them as “sweaty” revelers and implying that it was nearly impossible to talk with others due to the volume of the music. The underlying accusation is that Georgia Aquarium – one of the world’s leading aquariums, boasting a staff of dedicated and accomplished marine biologists, scientists and experts in the care of animals – regularly subjects its residents to intolerable noise levels in the name of profit.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Do Ask, Do Tell for Pride

What a difference a year makes.

“Hopes dim for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal this year,” read a headline in last year’s GA Voice Atlanta Pride issue, which hit the streets on Oct. 1, 2010.

Headline on page 36 of this Pride issue? “Atlanta celebrates end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Of course, the end of the military’s discriminatory ban on openly gay service members was years in the making. Efforts to repeal the ban began as soon as it was passed in 1993 as a disappointing compromise after newly elected President Bill Clinton had pledged to let gays serve in the military.

Clinton’s election played a small but meaningful role in my own coming out story. I never doubted my parents’ love, but they weren’t exactly thrilled in 1991 when they found out I was gay.