The power of in­di­vid­ual truth

GA Voice - - LGBT Atlanta -

You are an in­spi­ra­tion. Re­gard­less of whether any­one has ever said that to you, I wanted you to know. That’s be­cause, as a mem­ber of the media who has spent decades learn­ing the craft of self-pro­mo­tion, I have come to re­al­ize my big­gest in­spi­ra­tion comes from peo­ple whose names no one rec­og­nizes.

As the “oops baby” in my fam­ily, I de­vel­oped a self-im­age of not be­long­ing. As in­cor­rect as that per­cep­tion is, as a child I thought I was adapt­ing to an en­vi­ron­ment of out­spo­ken el­ders who left lit­tle room for me to ex­press my feel­ings. That’s why, when I heard Patty Mur­ray on Nashville ra­dio and saw Jes­sica Sav­itch on na­tional tele­vi­sion, I knew a pro­fes­sion with a cap­tive au­di­ence was for me. I would speak and some­one would lis­ten.

And I had some­thing to say. I came out on 99X in 1996, in an ef­fort to in­clude gay cou­ples in a dat­ing seg­ment the morn­ing­show team of Barnes, Les­lie, and Jimmy aired each week. I shared my strug­gles with a chronic ill­ness on The Bert Show, hop­ing the story of my kid­ney trans­plant would in­spire peo­ple to be­come or­gan donors. And lis­ten­ers to my cur­rent show on B98.5 have fol­lowed the anx­ious months of bring­ing Mr. Carter into the world via sur­ro­gate and the strug­gles some cou­ples have with cre­at­ing a fam­ily.

Some would con­sider me an ac­tivist for my work these past two decades. My abil­ity to grab a mi­cro­phone while climb­ing up on a soap­box has in­deed sat­is­fied a per­sonal de­sire to cre­ate change in the are­nas of gay and pa­tient ad­vo­cacy. And I got what I wanted as a child: for peo­ple to lis­ten to what I have to say. How­ever, my in­ner child came to re­al­ize that a one-way con­ver­sa­tion did not make her whole.

I’ve grown to un­der­stand the point of my job is not to share my life on air in or­der to be­come more pop­u­lar. That’s the mis­con­cep­tion of many of my col­leagues. In­stead, I open my world in hopes of a con­nec­tion, so that my lis­ten­ers and I don’t feel alone.

An ac­tivist is usu­ally de­fined as a per­son who cam­paigns for some kind of so­cial change, the most com­mon im­age de­pict­ing an an­gry face and a fist in the air. I’ve cer­tainly formed that pos­ture more than once, and have been more than happy to march down sev­eral city streets, from Midtown to out­side the White House. But there are many who can’t re­late to that ef­fort.

Be­ing loud and proud may be a nice swift kick that knocks a hole in an op­pres­sive wall, and cer­tainly serves as a good first step. But af­ter that ini­tial ef­fort is made, I be­lieve shar­ing what we have in com­mon is the true key to any change. That’s why you are an in­spi­ra­tion: be­cause your story is as im­por­tant as mine.

Melissa Carter is one of the Morn­ing Show hosts on B98.5. In ad­di­tion, she is a writer for the Huff­in­g­ton Post. She is rec­og­nized as one of the first out ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties in At­lanta and one ofthe few in the coun­try. Fol­low her on Twit­ter@Melis­saCarter

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