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by Jessica Carreras
Like many other Michiganders this year, John Secor got the call on Sept. 2: he was out of a job.
An editor and writer in the newspaper industry for many years, Secor was working in sales for a Philadelphia media company out of his home in Clinton Township when he was laid off due to a terrible year in the field. “When the newspaper industry starts suffering economically, all of the industries that support that industry feel it too,” he explained.
But Secor, who lives with his partner, had been through tough times before. Late in life, he came out as gay and, as he put it, “had to walk away from a lot of things.” The thing that helped him through the ordeal more than anything, he said, was the Affirmations community center in Ferndale.
There, Secor found friends who accepted him, people who could guide him and groups that supported him. “That center has given me so much in terms of helping me find myself and tapping into the resources that this community has to offer,” he said. “I would have been lost without Affirmations.”
So, despite his recent job loss, when Secor was contacted on Facebook by a friend hoping to raise money for the center, which has been struggling with a monumental drop in donations, he said yes and gave them $50.
“I’ve gotten more than $50 out of Affirmations, out of all the times I’ve gone there and have benefited from the strength, experience and help of other people who go to these meetings and stuff,” he insisted. “I didn’t think much of it.”
Upon hearing of the cuts that will go into effect in January, Secor was appalled. A Philadelphia resident for many years, he said the differences between the two states’ gay communities are stark. “The gay community (there) is very large, very organized, very mobilized and you have the freedom out there to do whatever you want to do,” Secor said. “I went from there to back here where it’s a much smaller community, it’s very disenfranchised at times, it’s much more limited than what I’m accustomed to.”
As such, Secor adamantly believes that centers like Affirmations are vital to the health of Michigan’s LGBT community – and plans to show his support by donating more and volunteering. “I told (Affirmations CEO Leslie Thompson) that after the holidays, I really want to kick it up a notch and start volunteering and helping out,” he elaborated. “That center has given me so much. I feel compelled to give back, especially now that I have the time.”
Secor urged that others do the same and give if they’re able to. “I’m going to put the word out to all of my friends,” he vowed. “…whether it’s 12-step program stuff or other support groups, or just going there to use some of their resources – we all use Affirmations in one way or another and it wouldn’t kill us to pony up 25 or 50 bucks. It’ll add up.”