Editor, activist, and all around man-of-the moment Gerald Garth has spearheaded and deployed some of the most effective grassroots activism efforts around HIV, med adherence, trans issues, and domestic violence in the Black gay community in southern California, but one of his passions is possessed of such joy that I had to know more.
Above: Catch Garth on the cover of the current issue of MESSAGE magazine.
Garth has been a big booster of Gay Sons and Moms whose Instagram account is exactly what it proclaims: images of gay sons and the mothers that love them doing ordinary things. The site’s mission is to “explore, the emotional relationship between gay sons and their mothers has been pathologized, idealized… and, surprisingly, largely unexplored. This project validates the significance of a mother’s role in her son’s life where, for many decades, she received little encouragement from others.”
We believe mothers and sons deserve to be honored through the stories they share.
“It wasn’t until I saw the images that I felt immediately their importance,” Garth says ,”I was first introduced to Gay Sons and Mothers by a friend through social media. She, knowing the work, that I do in community surrounding LGBTQ+ youth and families, thought the Instagram page would be good to follow. I did and got very connected to the great content centered around speaking to individual’s stories and relationships. After a few months, founder Rick Miller reached out and wanted to profile my own mother and me. We both thought it would be a perfect fit.”
Garth realized right away their importance, these images, he saw, “Not only as a gay man, but a journalist and writer myself, I recognize the power of storytelling. In every aspect of my work, I have been committed to authentic and genuine stories. So much of the progress that we will continue to make as a society is largely based in creating, sustaining, and celebrating the unique stories of individuals. There is also a great deal of healing that comes with storytelling. So many individuals have spoken to the freeing experience being able to share their own story has brought them. Not all stories are happy, but all stories have the power to heal—that is, telling truths and looking at opportunities to learn, grow, and help someone else—including ourselves.”
Above: A post by New York Times writer and author Benoit Denizet-Louis.
What does Garth have to say to those queer folx who have one or both parents cut them out of their lives? “First, take your time. Do what works best for you and your own sense of self. Getting to a place where you are consistently strengthening the love you have for yourself is helpful. Living in one’s own truth can be difficult. Coming out takes a lot of courage and oftentimes takes time. I will always encourage individuals to give yourself space and grace first. With that, if your parents have unsupportive thoughts, look to connect yourself with some form of support. That could be a support group, a friend, or even a newly selected family. I say all the time that “sometimes you have to unlearn to relearn.”
That might mean rethinking and reimagining what family looks like. Likewise, parents might need to unlearn some things as well. By being confident and unapologetically whole, you can show up for yourself and begin to show up for others.
“There is a great deal of power in owning your own truth, your own story. I say all the time we are the experts of our own experience,” Garth looks up, “By sharing our own story, we help ourselves and family, but also help others.”
You can check out Garth’s site here.