Over the summer, AT&T relaunched their annual Live Proud campaign, a program that celebrates awareness, empowerment and pride for the LGBT community. AT&T asked people to enter the AT&T "This Is Me" sweepstakes by creating a 15-second-or-less video that tells the world how they live proud every day. Four winners were selected and won two tickets each to the Out100 Gala in New York City. These are their stories.
Meet Mark Gilbert:
What was the inspiration behind your video?
Since you could enter more than once, I spoke about living out and proud, growing up in a rural Minnesota community that was not LGBT friendly, as well as my work with a local AIDS Service Organizations.
How did you find out about the contest?
I don't remember exactly where I saw the contest on the internet...
Where do you live and what do you do for work?
I have worked at the Minnesota AIDS Project the past 6 years, mainly providing support to employees who work directly with our clients.
What were your first reactions when you learned you won the contest?
I was shocked and super excited. I did not really think I would actually win (because who actually wins these things?), but figured it could happen.
What did you wear to the Out100? Describe your feelings the night of the party.
I bought a blue new suit for the occasion. I was excited and nervous. We knew that we were going the walking the red carpet, be interviewed and photographed by various media outlets, and meet executives from the various sponsors. AT&T wanted us to have a real live red carpet experience and it definitely was that and much more.
Do you think this year was especially important for the LGBT community? Why?
This was an incredibly important year for our community. We attained marriage equality in all 50 states, awareness was raised for our trans brothers sisters and their continued struggle for equality, and HIV is again being talked about in the mainstream media. Even with these incredible accomplishments it only highlights how much work we still have to do to eradicate stigma, continue to educate the public on disparities/inequalities that still exists in laws and treatment of our communities, and getting to zero new infections, zero Discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths
If you could choose three words to describe the night, what would they be?