What has always been important for me, despite the all of the moving I have done over the past ten years, is establishing a home base.  I believe that wherever you decide to establish yourself, you should do it thoughtfully and with your full heart.  Of course I want to travel more outside of the U.S. – I have never been to South America, Asia, Africa or Antartica – and be rich enough to spend time wherever I want within the country.  But it’s important to have a place to come back to that not only is my own, but also feels like my own.  I love that Oakland is my home now.

I have been delighted by the city since I first had the opportunity to move here in 2009.  It is an ideal location, central to most places in the Bay Area.  San Francisco is less than 15 minutes away.  Berkeley is our next door neighbor.  Napa wine country can be reached in 45 minutes.  Two major airports are easily accessible by public transportation.  It’s also usually warmer and sunnier here than it is for our friends across the bridge. 🙂

One action I’ve tried to take wherever I’ve lived is to be involved with the community on some level – whether that means by joining an organization, donating to a cause, or taking on some kind of leadership role.  Shortly after originally moving here, I attended town halls and Oakland City Council meetings to learn what was going on locally.  Recently I’ve taken an interest in that again, trying to understand how I can make an impact and meet local people doing cool and inspiring things.  The LGBT community was an obvious place for me to start, and I first engaged this time around by using Meetup and joining the Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus.

Something significant happened for the LGBT community in Oakland just last year.  In September, the first LGBT Center for the public opened.  The organization is funded entirely by the community and is something I had been meaning to check out for a while.  Our chorus first celebrated the opening by singing the national anthem at the launch party, but I was unable to attend that particular event.  So last Saturday, when I was running errands in the Lakeshore neighborhood (one of my favorite parts of the city), I decided to stop by.  There wasn’t anything specific going on when dropped in, but I met one of the cofounders of the organization and he gave me a tour of the facility.

The space is beautiful, including two floors, meeting rooms, community space and offices.  The man informed me that one of the things they are working on is building a library for youth and other visitors, and that something that they are in need of is books, and especially LGBT books.  Being towards the end of refurnishing my apartment, I knew it was time to go through my book collection and update it.  I also thought back to when I was 17 and how I secretly searched for any LGBT book I could get my hands on at the time.

Books now at the Oakland LGBT Center

Knowing that I didn’t need these books anymore and that they would probably serve other people, I decided that donating them was a meaningful way I could contribute to the LGBT Center in my own small way.  I believe in donating and volunteering time and also do those things, but this was a first step and in many ways a symbolic one for me at this stage of my life.  I share this with you because I think it’s important for each of us to think about how we can give back to the communities where we live in big and small ways.