As the Gay Men’s Outreach coordinator at AID Atlanta, I often find myself having to explain what it is exactly that I do.  I often joke that I’m a “professional homosexual.”  I’ve been called an activist, an educator, a public speaker, a fundraiser and a social advocate.  I guess I’m all of those things – and probably a few more.  At the end of the day, however, what I’m most identified with being is Gay.

Health blog: Life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness

I think that it’s an apt description of who I am and what I do.  The dictionary offers two primary definitions for gay – both are adjectives.  The first definition is to describe someone as “merry, lively, or happy.”  The second definition is probably what most people think of, describing someone as “a homosexual person, especially a male.”  So, to call me gay – you’d be right on both counts.

Last month, we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, often considered the birth of the modern day LGBT movement.  In acknowledging this momentous occasion, I thought to myself what it is to be a gay man.  For me, it’s not just about who I love – it’s about who I am.  I am a man who loves men, and I am a man who is happy to be homosexual.  I’ve not always been that way.  Like many in our community, I struggled to come to terms with my sexuality, and in turn, my happiness.  By embracing one, the other followed.

This month we celebrated Independence Day.  As the holiday passed, I thought of all of the things that make it great to be an American.  I thought of the many freedoms I have, and the many freedoms I still fight for.  While the political landscape has not evolved as quickly as I’d hoped it would, I am encouraged by the journey that we’re on.  We are living in historic times; our actions will determine the freedoms and privileges that will be afforded to future generations.  Our voices will be the ones that must call for freedom and equality.

As I write this, my first blog for The GA Voice, I am also preparing for a discussion group at AID Atlanta tonight.  Our topic tonight is “The Politics of Pride.”  Our discussion will focus on the rights that we have as LGBT people, and where the US ranks globally in rights and privileges.  We’ll also discuss the legal issues surrounding HIV/AIDS and status disclosure.  All of these are of immense importance, but they pale in comparison to our one true right – the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

I hope that through my work with AID Atlanta, and through this new opportunity with The GA Voice, I will be able to engage men in a conversation that will help them to pursue their own happiness.  We’re all entitled to having a voice in the community, to pursuing our passions, and most importantly – to being happy.  You might just say that to be anything other than Gay would be un-American.


Steven Igarashi is the Gay Men’s Outreach Program Coordinator for AID Atlanta.  He can be reached at