By Ben Cartwright | Back Out With Benny
January is my least favorite month. It’s dark and cold, and the festive lights and cheer that hide the dark and cold in December mostly go away. Then of course there’s the pressure to start something new or change habits in the form of New Year’s resolutions, which in most cases, get pushed back with excuses as each day passes in January.
That is why I so love the arrival of February — what many people call “the month of love.” The defeat of failed New Year’s resolutions has passed and things seem back on track and “normal” again. The warmer, lighter part of the year also seems within reach come February with daylight saving time returning on Sunday, March 13 and the spring season following just about a week later. I also happen to be a sucker for all things Valentine’s Day, including the decorations, romance, chocolate, and love.
With all this talk about “love” in February, it’s gotten me thinking a lot about the greater concept of love and what it means to us as human beings and as a community. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, I’ve been working hard to love myself more, be it in the health and fitness choices I make, along with the relationships I form. I’m learning to say “no” a lot more and letting my desires and ambitions guide my course in life, not the needs and wants of others.
I’d also like to see our community practice a bit more love toward each other. This is particularly challenging in a year like this one, with a presidential election just months away. On social media, I’ve already witnessed what looks like many friendships crumbling, even among people of the same political party who have an allegiance to one candidate or the other. As someone who’s been politically minded since a teenager (fun fact: Starting around 14 years old, one of the most exciting parts of my weekend was watching the re-plays of the previous week’s San Diego City Council meetings on CityTV), I’ve witnessed a lot of “politics” over the years. I can’t recall a time when nationally, locally, and within our community have we so divided ourselves. I think we all know the media and now social media, have a lot to do with this.
A wise mentor of mine always says that getting into an argument on social media is the same as getting into an argument with a drunk. It is a continuous circle that goes nowhere. No one will win and it’s unlikely that either person’s mind will be changed. It’s easy to get sucked into these cycles and unfortunately, more often than not, these exchanges lead to hurt feelings and crumbled relationships. Disagreements are natural and OK, but endless uncivil dialogue is not productive or healthy, nor is it in the spirit of loving and lifting our community up.
Let’s try a bit harder to love each other this year, and decide that our friendships and community relationships are a lot more important than being “right” on social media. Really think about what purpose it serves anyone to be just another voice in a sea of comments. If you really find yourself disagreeing with someone and you think it’s that important to correct them, invite them to coffee or lunch to talk it out. Not only will you be spending some quality time to actually connect with someone, it’s very unlikely that either of you will say the inappropriate things that the mask of a computer and keyboard would otherwise allow you to say. You might even learn something from each other.
Something I’ve chosen to do if I see a heated topic that I’m interested in is to jump into the conversation and share my point (without attacking anyone) and then jump back out and not re-engage in the feed.
In fact, one of my favorite features on Facebook is the “Turn off notifications for this post” selection so that I won’t even see when anyone else participated in the conversation; and with so much “noise” on Facebook already, I forget about the whole post and move on. Love yourself, love each other and let’s focus on real dialogue this year that doesn’t tear us apart.
With that said, please don’t forget about three very important events coming up at The Center this month.
As I mentioned last month, our MASQUERADE party is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 11 from 6-10 p.m. at BRICK at Liberty Station. This event is a new one for us, and it’s going to be a lot of fun, complete with amazing aerial performances, luscious live music, fabulous food, curious cocktails, mild mayhem, mystery and more! Visit events.thecentersd.org/masquerade for tickets and more info.
Tantrums & Tiaras: Battle of the Bar Queens is also coming up on Feb. 21! This over-the-top drag competition features contestants from five of our community bars who have little or no drag experience and they battle it out for the crown. This show always sells out and is packed with surprises so get your tickets now at tantrumstiaras.org.
Finally, the Bayard Rustin Civil Rights Honors is on Feb. 19 from 6-8 p.m. at The Center. This year’s honorees include the Hon. Tony Young, Vernita Gutierrez, Camille Davidson, Dwayne Crenshaw, and Dion Brown. Everyone is welcome to celebrate these community leaders’ service and accomplishments and for a $15 donation, guests will enjoy a soul food buffet, entertainment and program. More information is here: tinyurl.com/hqtzk8v.
Remember to practice more love this month — I love you all!
—Benny Cartwright is the director of community outreach at the San Diego LGBT Community Center. He can be reached at 619-692-2077 ext. 106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.