When I made the choice to be the best damn LGBT/HIV advocate that I can be, I looked to the people who came before me. People who fought the good fight. People who were like heroes to me. I even had the opportunity to meet some of them with much glee. However, I think back and wish that I had not met them as they would often come across as narcissistic and aloof and their advocacy work was more self-aggrandizement than altruism. I felt very disheartened by meeting them and asked myself if I was doing the right thing? I then said to myself, maybe I need to go back to the heroes that I grew up with (and 1 very recent obsession) and see what I learned from them as they have always been in my life. I came to find out that these fictional characters were my real heroes because this is what I learned from them:

Superman – quite possibly the strongest being on the planet. An alien who was sent to this world to save him from the destruction of his native planet. As powerful as he is, Superman isn’t afraid to live in integrity and team up with others not as powerful but to battle for the common good. Superman taught me a great lesson – HUMILITY.

Spiderman – the immortal words of Spidey’s uncle – Ben Parker – “with great power comes great responsibility.” When Spiderman initially came on the scene, he was very involved in generating wealth and fortune until one mistake led to the death of his uncle Ben. Despite the grave error, he renounced his selfish ways and dedicated his life to helping others. What did I learn from Spiderman – that despite the mistakes I have made in the past, I have a responsibility to help others and myself.

Iron Fist – Danny Rand was stranded in the far away land of K’un-Lun. There he was trained in the ways of martial arts and was able to beat the dragon Shou-Lao and gain the power of the Iron Fist. Every time Danny channels his inner chi and directs it to his fist, “it becomes unto a thing of iron.” What did I learn from Iron Fist – inner strength. I too have the inner power to create change and do good things.

Hawkeye – Clint Barton – a guy who shoots arrows with ease and never misses his mark. He fights alongside gods, super soldiers, and hulks. Yet all he has are arrows, a bow and uncanny aim. Hawkeye taught me self-esteem. Who I am is enough to fight alongside gods, super soldiers, and hulks.

Jean Grey – The Phoenix – she has been my girl since I was a teenager. The imagery of what the phoenix means has always carried so much weight with me. In my life, I have encountered many trials that have caused me to change, or dare I say, recreate. The Phoenix taught me that life is a series of recreations. I can recreate myself after any situation.

The Flash – More so the TV character of the current CW iteration than the comic book hero of the past 50 years. What I remember whenever I look at the Flash is that “I am not just some guy who was struck by lightning.” Nothing happens to me by chance. I can choose to use any tragedy and become something better. I have a choice.

Elsa – my current obsession. I was hesitant to even watch this movie, however, I fell to peer pressure. What this Disney movie taught me was probably one of the greatest lessons of the world – through self-acceptance I step into my full power.

Lastly – Batman. While I am not a huge fan of the bat, one thing always stayed with me when reading his tales and watching his movies. What Batman taught me was perseverance; never give up. Thank you Mr. Wayne.

So I may have lost some non-fictional heroes in my quest to help my community but the heroes that have always been by my side I think taught me greater lessons. Be humble and responsible. Know that you have the inner strength to do this. Don’t be ashamed to fight alongside people who you perceive to be more powerful than you. Recreate yourself. Choose to not be just some guy. Accept who you are. And never give up.

In conclusion, these heroes taught me one HUGE lesson – Be my own super-hero as I have the powers they have emulated for all these years.

Tags: superheroes, batman, spiderman, motivation, lgbtq