June is Pride Month 2023, and it's an honor to introduce my Diverse Advisory Council Member, Robert John Kellogg, who will be providing insightful posts throughout the month.
Robert enjoys connecting with people and the world around him. He is also passionate about service to others and believes in the law of reciprocity. Kellogg has a background in retail management, where he spent the first 25 years of his working career managing different retail establishments.
Robert is currently employed with a local Healthcare company, where he
works to connect individuals experiencing homelessness to vital service, especially healthcare. He also has a long history of community building and engagement that includes advocacy within marginalized communities, mental health initiatives, affordable housing and economic opportunities for all.
Robert currently serves on the Gastonia City Council where he enjoys serving the community and being a voice of reason. Kellogg was elected to the city council in the fall of 2015 and is currently serving his third term after being re-elected in November of 2021. Councilman Kellogg moved here from upstate NY over twenty years ago and is proud to call Gastonia his home.
Service ( in addition to Gastonia City Council )
• Chairman Central City Revitalization & Housing Committee
• Chairman Intergovernmental Relations & Economic Development Committee
• Member of the Arts, Transportation & Utilities Committees
• Gaston-Lincoln-Cleveland Metropolitan Planning Organization Board
Honors And Awards
• Retail Customer Excellence in Customer Service Awards
• Healthy Gaston VIP Award
• Co-Chair International Overdose Awareness Day Remembrance
• Appointed to NC Housing Finance Partnership Board
• Gaston County Intergovernmental & Interagency Task Force on Homelessness
• Gaston County Homelessness Prevention Committee
• Recognized by Governor Cooper and Attorney general Stein for work on the opioid crisis
• Gaston County COVID Task Force
• Kintegra Health Leadership Program
This is the final week of Pride Month, and we're closing it out with PRIDE: A Time For Hope, written and submitted by Robert John Kellogg, Diverse Advisory Council Member
Can we lament for just a minute about young people who choose suicide over coming out to their parents? Can we discuss adults who live in isolation because they find safety in the closet instead of acceptance in this country? Can we for just a quick moment pay homage to those who were led to the slaughter of the concentration camps while wearing a pink triangle on their arm or beaten at Stonewall or San Francisco and places in between….Can I just for a brief second remind us of a poor lonely college boy named Matthew Shepherd who hung from a fence and then laid in a coma for days while scared and terrified young LGBT people like myself just cried.
And may we whisper a prayer for the 32 people who were killed by arson in an upstairs LGBT bar in New Orleans in 1973. And let's not forget dozens of young people slaughtered in a nightclub or our transgender friends who find themselves being murdered at alarming rates for just being who they feel comfortable being.
My name is Robert Kellogg, and I am here to recruit you. I want to recruit an army. An army of soldiers who march not with guns but with love. An army that does not destroy those who despise us, but an army that will pledge to educate and advocate until every last person has been told the truth about who we are. I am here to recruit you, because in this day and time the floodgates of hate and oppression have been opened and in the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King...Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
So at the end of gay pride month, I ask you to join me in solidarity to pledge to shine the light a little brighter and to love a little deeper. What we all need right now is a little more hope. I cannot think of anyone better suited to remind us of that message than Harvey Milk. Milk was the first openly gay elected official in the country. In one of his most renowned speeches, Harvey expressed his thoughts on hope. Here is the last part of that speech. As you read it, may it inspire you to do more to spread love and acceptance and to give hope to those who need it.
“The first gay people we elect must be strong. They must not be content to sit in the back of the bus. They must not be content to accept pablum. They must be above wheeling and dealing. They must be – for the good of all of us – independent, unbought. The anger and the frustrations that some of us feel is because we are misunderstood, and friends can't feel the anger and frustration. They can sense it in us, but they can't feel it. Because a friend has never gone through what is known as coming out.
I will never forget what it was like coming out and having nobody to look up toward. I remember the lack of hope – and our friends can't fulfill it. I can't forget the looks on faces of people who've lost hope. Be they gay, be they seniors, be they blacks looking for an almost-impossible job, be they Latins trying to explain their problems and aspirations in a tongue that's foreign to them. I personally will never forget that people are more important than buildings.
I use the word "I" because I'm proud. I stand here tonight in front of my gay sisters, brothers and friends because I'm proud of you.
I think it's time that we have many legislators who are gay and proud of that fact and do not have to remain in the closet. I think that a gay person, up-front, will not walk away from a responsibility and be afraid of being tossed out of office. After Dade County, I walked among the angry and the frustrated night after night and I looked at their faces.
And in San Francisco, three days before Gay Pride Day, a person was killed just because he was gay. And that night, I walked among the sad and the frustrated at City Hall in San Francisco and later that night as they lit candles on Castro Street and stood in silence, reaching out for some symbolic thing that would give them hope.
These were strong people, whose faces I knew from the shop, the streets, meetings and people who I never saw before but I knew. They were strong, but even they needed hope. And the young gay people in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias, and the Richmond, Minnesotas, who are coming out and hear Anita Bryant on television and her story. The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be alright.
Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us'es, the us'es will give up. And if you help elect to the central committee and other offices, more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward. It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone. So if there is a message I have to give, it is that I've found one overriding thing about my personal election, it's the fact that if a gay person can be elected, it's a green light.
And you and you and you, you have to give people hope. Thank you very much.
This week for Pride Month, Diverse Advisory Council Member Robert John Kellogg shares the risk of homelessness for our LGBTQ youth.
The sobering facts about LGBTQ youth and homelessness
“ LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness are at particular risk. Between 20 and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as members of the LGBTQ community, and for them, homelessness or the threat of homelessness frequently forces youth into survival behaviors that jeopardize their wellbeing and safety”. -The HUD Exchange.
Most of us do not have to look far to see the visible display of homelessness in our towns and cities. And yet, I would wager that most of us are not aware of the disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth who make up those numbers. It is strikingly high and study after study confirms the initial findings, that our LGBTQ young people are vulnerable and make up a large number of our unsheltered youth population.
What is even more striking is how many of our LGBTQ youth become homeless to no fault of their own. Psychological journals and medical studies point to parental rejection, abuse, bullying and a lack of social support leading to a skyrocketing rate of homelessness.
The Trevor Project had this startling statistic: 28% of LGBTQ youth reported experiencing homelessness or housing instability at some point in their lives — and those who did had two to four times the odds of reporting depression, anxiety, self-harm, considering suicide, and attempting suicide compared to those with stable housing.
What is even more alarming is once these vulnerable teens become homelessness they are more likely to be victims of further abuse, exploitation, harassment, discrimination and even the victims of physical harm and death.
The answer is to intervene before the wheels of homelessness begin turning.
This is not a happy Pride article, but one that should make us more aware of the needs and vulnerabilities of our young LGBTQ population. Here in Gaston County, our young people are in no less of a danger. The lack of resources and support leaves many seeking shelter in other areas once they become homeless. Thank goodness for some of our Charlotte resources like Time Out Youth. Check out their emergency housing program and consider being a host home.
The need is great all across our nation and certainly here in Gaston County as well. Please become better educated and look for ways we can assist our younger people who are in crisis. During this PRIDE month, take a few moments to think how you can support these young people.
For additional information or if you or a young person you know is at risk, please utilize the Trevor Project crisis line: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help/
This week, in honor of Pride Month, Robert shares vital resources for some of the challenges that our LGBTQ brothers and sisters face.
As we embark on Pride month, let’s look at some of the challenges facing those who are LGBTQ. One of the most noticeable challenges is that of mental health and the lack of access to the existing resources. It is important to note that all marginalized groups face increased risks for mental illness and health disparities.
First and most importantly, you are not alone, and you have value as a human being. Second, if you are facing depression, anxiety or some other mental health challenge, then please seek professional help.
The link below is filled with resources at the bottom. And finally, make healthy choices. Surround yourself with loving and affirming people. Seek institutions and organizations that value you as a human being and learn to articulate the struggles you may be facing. Locally you can turn to a trusted physician or health care clinic.
Organizations like Partners, Phoenix, Kintegra and others can work with you to help make your mind and spirit whole. Please read the article below and share these resources with others.
“Research suggests that LGBTQ+ individuals face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of their civil and human rights. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide”.
The Importance of Pride Month: LGBTQI+ rights are human rights, but unfortunately, that still isn't the status quo.
• The first recorded march for LGBTQI+ rights in the United States was in 1969 in New York City. Now, 150 cities host Pride events.
• In the U.S., LBTQI+ youth are almost five times more likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual, cisgender youth.
• Pride Month and pride parades continue to be important for the solidarity, fight for human rights and visibility of the LGBTQI+ community.
This month is LGBTQI+ Pride Month. In the US and other countries, many places display rainbow flags, companies have promotions, events, or products “in honor of LGBTQI+ Pride,” and there are cities around the world that have a parade sometime in the month of June.
That said, many people don’t know or understand why Pride Month exists and/or the purpose of the parade. Some react with fear and prejudice, some are puzzled as to why it’s necessary, while others think of it as just a big excuse to dress up and party.
But LGBTQI+ Pride Month actually has a very specific history and purpose. For many, if not most, in the LGBTQI+ community, it’s a deeply meaningful and moving day that has great significance.
Understanding the History of Pride
In order to understand Pride Month and why there are pride parades, it’s important to understand the history. The first recorded march for the rights of LGBTQI+ folks in the United States was in 1969 in New York City. The regular, systematic, and violent oppression of people in that community reached a boiling point, at a time when other social movements — the Civil Rights movement, Women’s Liberation Movement, and Disability Rights movement — were gaining momentum and fighting for oppressed groups to have a voice and demand for equal human treatment.
At that time, the police, and individuals felt it well within their rights to oppress and cause bodily harm to people within the LGBTQI+ community. The march was a response to that treatment — it was a demand that people within the community be treated with the basic rights, respect, and dignity afforded other human beings in the country.
Those first marchers were courageous. They risked their lives by exposing themselves to the public as part of the community and in doing so, they made the community visible and empowered. After this first march, it became an annual event. The next year there were also marches in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Today, there are 150 cities around the world that host Pride events during the summer.
So why are these events still happening?
Prejudice, oppression, violence, and death are still, unfortunately, common for people in the LBTQI+ community in the United States and across the globe. Many states in the US are continuing to pass legislation to deny the rights of people in this community. In the US, LBTQI+ youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual, cis youth because of the continued deep prejudice, hatred, and lack of acceptance they perceive around them.
Around the world, there are laws specifically being passed to deny the rights of LBTQI+ people to live, love, work, receive medical care, go to the bathroom, exercise, and even simply exist. People in this community continue to be subjected to rejection, prejudice, violence, and death.
For this reason, Pride Month — and the pride parades — continue to be deeply important in the continued solidarity, fight for human rights, and visibility of the LGBTQI+ community. Additionally, and equally important, is the label “pride.” For a group of people who are told continuously — through laws, religions, media, bullying, and directly — that LBTQI+ people are less-than or should not exist, it is deeply psychologically important that there be counter-messaging. Shame is debilitating and can lead to mental illness, addiction, isolation, and death.
It is deeply important that there be a visible, supported, and joyous event telling people of the LBTQI+ community that it is a beautiful, diverse, supported, welcoming community, one to be proud to be a member of and one that deserves the rights and dignities of every human.
~ Samantha Stein Psy.D.
Originally published in Phsycology Today, June 2021
In Universal Love and Spiritual Service
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