By Tina Fortunato
CCC Journalism Program
CHERRY HILL – Michael Elliot Myers is a gay rights advocate and member of the gay community who makes efforts to change society’s perspective on homosexuality.
The 22-year-old Philadelphia native says his favorite thing to do is getting together with a bunch of friends to hang out, laugh and enjoy life. He believes this is necessary because sometimes daily life gets too serious and finding that escape is important.
“My friends are my escape,” he says.
Myers felt there was something different about him from a young age.
“I only understood what my family and friends would tell me. Being gay was never really explained when I was younger and was not talked about in school at that time,” says Myers.
He recalls being about 12 when he began to realize he was gay. He chose not to talk about it and “act like I was what was considered normal in the society around me. I think it was when I was 14 and had my first girlfriend that I really realized that I may really not be straight. I tried to say I was bi for a few years to just avoid all the teasing and loss of status I may have endured by doing so in high school,” he explains.
The first person he told was his lifelong friend. She and he had known each other since kindergarten. She revealed to him she may he bi-sexual, which gave him comfort to confide in her about his feelings.
“We were able to kind of experience our secrets and feelings together. We could literally tell each other everything and feel at ease about any and all issues we faced,” says Myers.
He began getting involved in gay rights efforts. He has attended many gay rights activities, including Philadelphia and New York City’s gay pride fests, Outfest, and equality forums almost every year for the last four years. He has participated in the Gay-Straight Alliance.
Myers says he believes society needs to open up its eyes. He doesn’t understand why being gay is such a big deal and why so much time and effort are spent fighting against it when the world has so many bigger problems.
“Culture can be defined as the socially transmitted behavior patterns, norms, beliefs and values of a given community, so that’s where it needs to stop or start. We have cultured ourselves to believe that something is wrong with someone being homosexual but maybe there is something wrong with being heterosexual,” says Myers. “It’s just a constant battle of two negative magnets trying to join as one but the forces of our society and norms make it impossible to find a positive sign to stick us together. We need to believe in ourselves and the person behind each face, what’s really in their heart and what makes us a community, not homosexual versus heterosexual.”