In a world transitioning into a post-COVID-19 atmosphere, the greater sense of community has become increasingly important, especially as we move back into a space of local and global connectedness. Community is defined as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals, but beyond that, it means so much more to so many. Community speaks to the core of social homeostasis within various social sectors in society. Community is the embodiment of helping thy neighbor. It is the reason why we support people we share experiences with without validating them first; we do it because they belong to our community.
The most important thing to consider, though, is the following question: what does community mean to you?
When I ask myself this question, the first word that comes to my mind is “support.” The support of others helped me through the past year as I tried to navigate the world during COVID. Like the rest of the world, I felt the pressure of finances, employment, sociability, and mental health, and it felt so crippling. Along with that, the Black Lives Matter movement and the politics that followed it made the perfect equation for someone to feel alone. Rewinding time, and looking at the past year of my life, I sit and think to myself: How did I weather the storm? How did I, a young gay AND Black person, weather the storm of amplified oppression, financial instability, and a world unknown to all? The answer is: with the help of my community.
Be That Person
Day in and day out, they made sure that I was okay. Beyond being okay, they made sure I maintained sustainability as a fully functioning adult. Whether it was helping me apply for new job opportunities or calling me about auditioning for a podcast, I never felt like I didn’t have a community behind me, pushing me to do my best in life. Their support during all of it also helped with my mental health. Feeling loved helped me dodge depression and pushed me into new avenues and opportunities. Grateful is an understatement to describe how I feel about what they have done for me.
But this is a two-way street. I continue to try to provide the same resources, love, and support for those in my community. I want to be that person for somebody in the same way somebody was that person for me. We often become too autonomous in our lives and live in our own lane, forgetting that there are people out there who feel alone or without support. Taking a few seconds to lift up the person next to you will only do the same for you in your life.
Focus on the Common Good
My community is what brought me onto this great podcast, The Gayly Dose. Bennett, my now co-host, called me and asked me to audition for the podcast. That short call changed my life in ways words cannot describe. In my current role as co-host and creative director, I have been given the chance to express myself in ways I never dreamed possible. For the first time in my life, I feel like I now have the platform to amplify my passions, my values, and my experiences without having to sacrifice the most honest parts of myself.
Speaking about race, religion, real estate and everything in between has not only been therapeutic but has enlarged my sense of civic responsibility. As Elizabeth Larson-Keagy wrote in the Journal for Civic Commitment, civic responsibility means active participation in the public life of a community in an informed, committed, and constructive manner, with a focus on the common good.
The gay community is one that has come a long way, even in the past year. We charge on to fight not only for our rights, but for the rights of all queer people in all places. We have been through so much, and through our struggles, we now have the chance to celebrate the world we have helped create. Whether it be in the gayborhood, with your closest friends at home, or online in gay social spheres, now more than ever have the chance to unite as community and move mountains for each other. Community is so important, and without it, who knows what the last year would have looked like.
Instead of living in the unknown, let’s move forward into a space where the sense of community uplifts us all. A space where all of us can live our best queer lives.
Dante is the Creative Director and Co-Host of The Gayly Dose, an Atlanta based podcast hosted by an all-gay cast. Unique in its mission and follow-on format, weekly episodes are known for their real conversations about things that matter to the community and their listeners. Purposefully candid and brutally honest, the cast speaks on a range of topics including monogamy, body issues, coming out, dating apps and growing up gay in the church. Listen at thegaylydose.com.