The LGBTQIA Humans of Kansas City: Michael West

Michael West:

Winner of the PrideFest 2017 Slogan Contest
“Stand Up, Stand Out, Stand Proud”

“Being out at work and within the community has helped connect me with so many great people that I may never have known if I had stayed closeted..”

My story of coming out starts when I was around 18, when I first came out to my mom via a friend of mine calling her and giving her the news, because I was too chicken. Even though I knew she knew I was gay, I still had a personal dilemma with actually saying the words “I’m Gay”. Growing up, I knew being gay was not normal and not widely accepted and living in small towns, there wasn’t much of a support system to rely on. Moving down here to Kansas City I think helped me ease into being more comfortable with it. I met other gay people and befriended them, in fact, I think the first person I came out to was my gay friend who for a long time thought I was straight and just really accepting of the gay lifestyle, boy was he surprised.

A short time later, I met my partner for life Larry, and we have been together now for over 17 years. Larry was a repeat customer of mine and one day we decided to go out, I still don’t know how he knew I was gay, but I’m really glad he figured it out. Kansas City has really provided me with many opportunities, from getting a great job to meeting many inspiration people within the LGBTQ community. Through the many outlets here in Kansas City, I have been able to meet and work with amazing charitable groups, such as “The Whole Person”, “Artists Helping the Homeless, the AIDS Walk, Making Strides, etc. Being out at work and within the community has helped connect me with so many great people, that I may never have known if I had stayed closeted. The LGBT community in Kansas City and surrounding metro is a vibrant one and very committed to helping others of all walks of life, not just others in the LGBT people.

This year I am honored that my slogan, “Stand Up, Stand Out, Stand Proud” was selected to be the slogan for the 2017 Gay PrideFest. I feel that after all we have gone through lately within the LGBTQ community, the Pulse nightclub massacre, politics beating us down left and right, the transgender bathroom debate, marriage equality and so on and so on. We need to as a community continue to Stand Up for our rights, Stand Out so the world can see us and hear our voices and Stand Proud to be a part of such a great LGBTQ community. We can never again let our voices be silenced and our rights taken away. The men and women who took a stand at Stonewall back in 1969 deserve to be honored and we can do that by continuing the fight for equal rights and freedoms.