Those of us who lived through the 1980s and the AIDS epidemic are similarly marked. I am accustomed to it when first meeting another middle-aged gay man and our conversation takes an inevitable turn: “Where were you?” “What did you see?” “How many did you lose?”

Traumatic, painful events like our community has been through can manifest as PTSD.

I think of my fourth grade gym teacher who called me a faggot. I remember, not only all the deaths from AIDS, but the real and emotional armor we had to don every day to combat it. I think of the Pulse Nightclub Massacre, the epidemic of transgender people being murdered, the barbaric, state sanctioned torture method of conversion therapy. I think about how much time and energy we all spend on staying safe; the daily exhausting vigilance it takes to be LGBTQ and the constant fighting for our rights, the toll all this takes on all of us.

Read more about healing PTSD in the LGBTQ community in my latest Advocate column.


With Love,


  • Richie Jackson is the author of the book Gay Like Me published by HarperCollins, an opinion columnist for The Advocate, and an award-winning Broadway, television, and film producer who produced the Tony Award-nominated Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song on Broadway and executive produced Showtime’s Nurse Jackie (Emmy and Golden Globe nominee for “Best Comedy Series”) for seven seasons. As an alumnus of NYU, he endows a program at his alma mater to train the next generation of LGBTQ+ activists called the Richie Jackson LGBTQ+ Service Fellows. He and his husband, Jordan Roth, were honored with The Trevor Project’s Trevor Hero Award. They are the proud parents of two extraordinary sons.