You have struggled these past couple of weeks with how to react to the Pulse shootings in Orlando, but how have you inspired the world to feel about it?

I was recently asked to speak at the Coca-Cola headquarters here in Atlanta for a GLAAD event, and obviously changed the content of my speech following the events on June 12. I have decided to share the script of that speech with you here; despite the fact the passion of the speech will be lost in translation. However, I think it is important for all of us to realize not only the effect of Orlando on us but also how we are affecting others through this tragedy.

Hope.

I think that is a word that is overused. Hope is a tool you only need when desperate. It’s not an end result; it is the bridge that gets you to that end result. A tool, like a fire extinguisher collecting dust under the cabinet or a tire iron lost in the trunk or those jumper cables. You only use these things when desperate. Yet when we do need them we often fumble with how exactly to use them.

Hope isn’t necessary when you are feeling happy or satisfied. Now is a time for hope, but how will you use it?

I want to switch to Coke. You have created a brand that is emotional. What kind of emotion? The good moments in your life, often from childhood.

A Coke and a Smile.

The Real Thing.

For those old enough to remember, I’d like to teach the world to sing—a message of bringing a diverse world together…in perfect harmony.

As the gay community, what is our brand? Hardship? Or hope?

The world is waving rainbow flags this week. World leaders like President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu have publicly given their support, public buildings have been washed in rainbow colors, and straight people have changed their online profiles to include the rainbow flag in solidarity. Closeted members of our community have their eyes on us and are watching how we respond, so what message are we sending? On social media I have seen the words “depressed,” and “fuck you, straight people, I don’t need your sympathy.”

I am proud to be gay, and will go into whatever bar or gathering I damn well choose without fear because I am hope. I expect the world to embrace love, ever slowly, more and more. It already has, don’t you see it? Love brings love, hate creates hate.

What brand are you creating? Devastation? Devastation only breeds more devastation.

Rage? A lot of us have been angry for a long time, haven’t we? What good has it done? Rage only breeds rage.

Retaliation? Retaliation will only inspire more retaliation.

Take hope out of the cabinet or trunk…and use it. Even if your hands are shaking, find hope and put it to work in building a bridge to happiness. The only way to be truly happy is by loving yourself first.

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