This is a long shot, but here goes: I am asking like-minded individuals to help me have a voice to resolve some issues I have failed to get anywhere with on my own. Although that doesn’t sound like a lot to ask, I believe my roadblocks have to do with things that most of the LGBTQ Community doesn’t want to address. Please forgive me, but I tried to summarize some of the important details but I found it necessary to elaborate on why I believe things aren’t working yet. Feel free to skip to the petition at the end if you’re curious about what I am asking. If you are unwilling to help, chances are, I explain why in the following paragraphs:
Why Do Powerful People Refuse To Share Their Power?
Before I go into my proposal, I’d like to preface this with some explanation of why this is such a major challenge for myself and anyone who feels compelled to be a part of something like this. To put it quite simply, my career, my activism, and (as a result) my life depends on my ability to transcend class and social status. If there’s one thing that sets me apart from those who get press, it has to do with being recognized, holding positions of influence, and basically having a lot of friends.
One of the main reasons why social status isn’t a common subject, in my opinion, is simply that the influencers that are being seen and heard regularly just don’t see this from their vantage point as being very important. It’s the outcasts from our community that don’t get heard that notice these problems frequently. Most of the time, we just avoid social interaction, hide in the closet, and find other communities. At this point in my career, I can’t afford to disappear anymore. Although I have been very familiar with how the gay community excludes various types of people (this even goes back to when I was a teenager) it has never been a big enough issue like it has been recently based on some things that I need to accomplish.
There are a lot of things that prevent influencers and their peers from advocating for those they consider to be on the outside. One of those things is denial that we exclude others. We don’t post signs on Pride events telling certain people to go away and we welcome and associate with all kinds of people. The thing that I have noticed though, is that there are those who have certain characteristics that enable them to be more visible, among other privileges. Therefore, inclusion in my opinion, doesn’t have to do with who’s at your party, but who’s treated with full equality.
Being a voice for a social outcast isn’t an easy thing to do for the simple fact that it can easily put your social status at risk. Although these kinds of thoughts aren’t consciously recognized, the fears are very real. It goes way beyond thinking that, “if I promote a loser than others will think I’m a loser”. It has to do with upsetting a way of being that keeps “trusted” voices heard, and outsiders ignored. Much of the time, for good reason; because there are some unsafe and abusive people who lost their credibility for how they treat others. But than again, that’s not always the case – as we know from history, there are those who might have something to contribute that doesn’t match their current ability to reach others.
There is also a growing mentality of placing a mental price tag on everything that is constantly clamoring for our attention because of an ever increasing noise of useless information. Humanity for the most part cannot cope with all this busyness, especially for powerful people, and we unconsciously give our valuable time to what “looks” important. Decades ago, we not only had less access to information, but it took more effort to judge what seemed important or not. Thanks to social media, we can literally put numbers on how much attention something is getting, even if it is negative attention, ironically. Whether something is loved or hated, it gets the same price tag; and a snowball effect takes things that have too much attention into a “viral” sort of downhill juggernaut. This also has an opposite effect on those who have the same kind of story, product, or cause; except it continually gets buried in the noise of billions of useless and ill motivated content until it gets close to a zero value.
It’s not just about living with the constant rejection from powerful “gatekeepers” in the press, entertainment, the arts, and the media; it’s the fact that I believe that media consumers have been unconsciously enabling a grotesque imbalance of power. Therefore, it’s not just influencers that I have been contending with: it’s also with the general public who have little to no power or influence in society. Deep down inside, we also know that unless there’s some kind of wild intervention, we resort to staying in our ranking system while keeping people in power who have too much power and vice versa. That’s why I am calling this impossible endeavor, “transcending social class”. Anyone that enables me to be heard beyond what my current “social ranking” is will find that there will be an inner struggle in addition to other things that will hinder and distract them from supporting this cause. I experience this on a regular basis, and it’s as creepy as it is surreal; although I don’t want to use this particular piece of writing to get spooky-spiritual on everyone.
Four years ago, I started asking everyone around me for some word-of-mouth advertising and networking. So far, only one person has done anything significant for me although unfortunately, not powerful enough to have much reach beyond a localized region; I still remain stuck in professional obscurity. I don’t mind being branded as a “follower” and someone who’s spent years supporting the dreams and careers of others with my time, skills, and resources. It’s just that matters beyond my control has put me in a position where I require something that I don’t have the privilege of getting by myself, and no matter how much time and money I invest in failed promotion efforts, it is very clear to me that I am not allowed to be in a significant place of influence. Heck, for the most part, I am alone and have no place to call home as I travel the country trying to be successful at being a multimedia artist and mental health activist. I also am seen as another crazy old white man who’s desperate for attention: “if nobody seems to want to listen to this guy, why should we?”
Therefore, unless I stumble on something that enables me to somehow gain these privileges, or I am lucky enough to have someone with enough power to actually share some of their power and influence, what I am doing is basically impossible. The sad thing is that, with the exception of a lot of my useless content, I have been productive over the years to have some products that deserve the same exposure as comparable content; and if that’s not true, one thing that can’t be denied is the value of my story. I have suffered and survived things that many men die from, or end up institutionalized, incarcerated, or disappear into a life of self-harm, suicide, and homelessness. That brings me to something that’s even more sad: although my story can help encourage a lot of others to survive similar trauma and raise a lot of awareness on the realities that the public will not hear for the simple fact that popular and influential people just don’t experience things the way outcasts do. Therefore, there’s not only a lot of fear and denial about giving certain people a voice, there’s also the fact that no matter what I’ve experienced and how much documentation I can provide, I found that there’s yet another fight to prove myself that I’m not making this stuff up.
I’ve survived decades of embarrassing and shameful things. If I was going to make up a sensational story just to get attention, I’d tell people that I discovered a subterranean race of subhuman beings that live underneath Boise or that I was the first person to be born in outer space. Even if people so in fact believe me, there’s still that “price tag” stuck to me that makes everything I do and say of little to no value and most importantly: my story makes conservatives look bad in addition to making liberals look bad as well. If that’s not enough, there’s not a “Hollywood ending”, in fact at this point, all I have is a sad ending unless someone has the ability to give me a happy ending. Would you like to give a crazy old queer a “happy ending”?
There are a handful of organizations that I believe have not only been treating me unfairly, but also misrepresenting and under-representing a lot of others who are stuck in similar situations. Disability status contributes to some of these issues including lack of diversity, and mostly having to do with a social ranking system (mentioned in the previous paragraphs) that there’s enough denial about to constantly blame the silence I am getting on a lot of unrelated excuses, like the current pandemic and even me running a business that’s not big enough. Therefore, it is essential that I rely on others to be my voice, and contact some of these influencers in the media to reconsider stories like mine. One dispute in particular has been going on since a writer from The Advocate magazine approached me in October of 2018 about a series of conversion therapy survivor stories they were going to publish. I decided I wouldn’t give up until this issue is resolved, and even though I have finally gotten most of the contact information for those in power at Pride Media, I have been treated with a lot of polite disrespect, and even to the point of bullying and nearly traumatizing me. All I am asking is that enough people get the word out to as many folks as they are willing to ask; and those willing to help are asked to call, snail-mail, and email these media gatekeepers to not only engage with me, but to be willing to also consider others like me in addition to reviewing whether they are representing particular groups and causes with fairness, equality, and giving realistic perspectives of pressing issues that are not based on reality.
Please contact me personally for ways to ask others to get involved in addition to sample scripts to base your petitions on and how to contact these influencers. My goal is to see significant change in how various organizations portray certain causes and individuals, starting with conversion therapy survivors, the mentally disabled, and others who have been underprivileged, marginalized, and basically silenced because of things beyond our control. If this project fails, it’s just another part of an ongoing social experiment in my observations to the global power-addiction epidemic and the widespread abuse of power. In this case, this petition also reveals whether those of us who have little to no power would also be willing to speak up for the invisible because I believe that the other side to this social illness is about how the public enables those with too much influence to actually gain more power, and vice versa. For those who are still hesitant, the best solution is to spend a little time to get to know me personally. I am available for chats and calls.
Bear hugs from North Dakota,
AKA Jason T. Ingram