Hi, my name is David Raleigh and I’m from Seattle, Washington, where I grew up in a very unique situation. My mom was a very religious woman, and she, when I was 4 years old, she went to work at this communal, Christian organization that was kind of this big commune, I call it a commune. And there were about 500 families living on this communal property with their kids and we all went to the same school. And it was very, very much the kind of place where everyone was tipping around toes trying to be the better Christian than the other person.
And I was from a young age I was playing the piano and I was, I had what my mother called a god-given talent to play the piano and sing and I did it often. I played so many things for the nursing home. And I played at many funerals and weddings and all my life I was a performer. And I loved it. I loved performing and I loved being everywhere but it was always hard especially once people found out I was gay or had a suspicion that I was gay. It was always a problem with the church, whether I was going to be allowed to play.
And I remember one time I was playing at a church and the rumor was that I was a gay man and they didn’t know what to do with me. But they needed me to play the piano. So they came to the consensus that they would just move the piano off the pulpit as long as it was down on the ground, I was free to continue to play with the church but the piano could not be in the pulpit.
And as I got older I sought other options which weren’t always the greatest things to do in the Christian community. They didn’t really think it was proper to be doing some of these things, playing in these certain places.
I got a job at a bar, a little lounge, playing the piano and all the people at the church were all concerned that I was going to backslide and go to Hell and I shouldn’t be playing in this bar and it was evil. But I needed this job and I really enjoyed this job. It was like new music and being really creative with my career. And the youth group from the church came and picketed my bar with signs that said, “The piano is a backslider” and “He’s going to Hell” and all this kind of stuff. And my boss, I had only been working for 3 or 4 days, and the boss just came up to me and he was like, “How long is this going to go on?”
And I was like, “I don’t know.”
But then after 2 or 3 days they stopped doing it and that was just another side of, it was just like, oh my goodness, these people take the time to organize a bus and come all the way down to this bar to picket my little bar, wow, it must, that’s another powerful moment when you know you’re doing the right thing as far as staying true to yourself, and realizing that other people are crazy and you’re not crazy.
And at that point, that’s when I really started knowing that I was all good. It was one of those moments you have that you just, you can’t continuously be told that you’re bad and continuously be told that you’re an evil person and you shouldn’t be doing this when you know that they desperately need you to do the work that you’re really good at doing.
I always had a sense, I think you always have a sense that you know you’re a good person. And you know that what you’re doing, if you’re not robbing, killing, stealing, you know that you’re inherently a good person and you try to do the right things and you try to do things that are positive.
Just hearing myself tell the story gives me, empowers me again to continue what I do in my life and it makes me happy that I’ve gotten to this place that I can so easily talk about something that was kind of painful at one point, and embarrassing and ridiculous, and another point, but all that stuff is what helps make you who you are. The best thing you can do is be yourself completely in every instance, whether it’s embarrassing, whether you get laughed at, whether you get called names, whether you get shoved off the pulpit, whatever happens to you, the best thing you can do for yourself is be true to yourself and just plow through it because in the end, haters wanna hate and that’s in end you’re always going to win by being, sticking to your guns, sticking to who you are.