About Joe Whitaker-Creator of MAN-UPP.
The idea for MAN-UPP came about a few years ago as I was about to be forced “out" and having to reveal a part of me that I had kept secret for so many years.
My life, as I knew it then, was completely changed in just a few hours one Saturday afternoon. I took only the clothes in my gym locker and drove away from a small town in Alabama to Denver, Colorado.
The man I was seeing at the time was with me and we were both about to be outed to our families. This was something we did not plan, we only knew that we had to leave.
Both of our families could not accept the news they were hearing and we both knew staying there would only lead to more concerns of mine and his safety.
At the age of 40, I was starting my life over.
My family wanted me to get "help." They tried to convince me that I was "confused." I knew very clearly my life would never be the same and a huge weight had been lifted.
No more pretending. No more trying to be who everyone expected me to be because of where I lived or how I grew up.
I do regret how it all came about because I would have liked to have told them differently than writing letters and leaving town, but in the moment it seemed the best thing to do.
I was finally coming to terms with being gay and learning how I needed to be proud, not ashamed, to be known as a gay man.
During those first few weeks of moving I was reminded of 2 words my Dad and Grandfather spoke very often when I was growing up....”man up!”
They would say those words to me whenever they felt I needed to be reminded to be stronger or "tougher" in whatever I was dealing with. Be tough, do what is right, is what I always heard them saying.
I know it was a saying my Grandfather most likely picked up from his fellow marines when he was enlisted and fought in World War II.
His words he passed on to my Dad and myself helped me get through some incredibly tough moments in my life.
I am very proud of both my grandfathers. One was Navy and one was a Marine. My grandfather who was in the Navy was the hardest working man I have ever known. When he retired he still continued working and was our town's police dispatcher for 15 years.
If my Dad had been living at the time, I want to believe that no matter what, he would have said those words to me because that was his way of reminding me that he loved me.
As I began thinking about the idea of MAN UPP I knew one day I wanted to create something that would connect and encourage others to be themselves.
No one should live in fear of being the man or woman they were born to be.
"Be Proud, Be You!"
That is what MAN UPP is about.
Thank You for stopping by.
You can email me with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Instagram at Joe Whitaker @ JoeofManUpp.
A Foundation I found after coming out and I greatly admire all that Ben has accomplished:
The Stand Up Foundation
I also donate from my Events to the following:
Sunburst Youth Housing in San Diego, CA. They provide housing for runaway LGBTQ youth. More Info here: Sunburst Youth
HIV Help & Services TPAN of Chicago: TPAN
The Grass Roots Organization & Real Bad Events: Real Bad