Pay It Forward

Gamma Mu-vers and Shakers ring in the New Year for AIDS non-profits and deserving LGBT students

The 16th century English scholar John Selden didn’t think it was a good idea to announce one’s New Year’s resolutions: doing so makes it “twice as onerous a duty,” he advised. With this in mind, I think most of us would agree that it isn’t what one says one is going to do that matters, but rather the actual doing of the deed, and what one is actually getting done.

In the last year, I became acquainted with an organization of gay men of means who nearly a quarter century ago decided to direct some of their charitable efforts towards helping HIV/AID patients in rural America, where medical and other services were much harder to obtain than in, say, New York City, or Greater Fort Lauderdale.

These men, led by the visionary Cliff Pettit, formed the Gamma Mu Foundation, and their combined generosity and fund-raising has resulted in $1.5 million in total grants and scholarships being awarded to not-for-profit groups and deserving students who will in turn use that seed money to feed indigent PWAs, or pursue educational opportunities that might not otherwise have been available. This past year, the Foundation donated $110,000 in grants and scholarship moneys. Gamma Mu Foundation, in short, is mixing two of my favorite metaphors: showing a person the proper way to fish, so he can feed himself for a lifetime, as it were; and they are paying it forward.

How many opportunities will each of us have to pay something forward over the course of the next 361 days? Without meaning to, Your Kindly Editor will likely step on about two hundred ants on the way home this evening; it can’t be avoided in a place with as much greensward as tropical South Florida. But assuming the Mayans got it wrong, and December 22 comes around as scheduled (at least on the Gregorian calendar), what would YOU like to have paid forward by year’s end? An idea whose time has come, constructive praise or criticism, even the occasional charitable gift, as resources and faculties permit. As Oprah Winfrey reminded us: “Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.”


Cliff Dunn








CLIFF DUNN is the Editor of the Florida Agenda. He can be reached at [email protected]