Walter G. Meyer is one of those people who just seems to genuinely care about his community and the environment.
The 48-year-old hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is single, and moved to San Diego 19 years ago.
He can often be seen giving his time on weekends to a number of causes, and is also quick to support these local LGBT and environmental organizations by capturing the events he attends on film. His photos adorn many of the social media pages of the nonprofits he volunteers for, helping to spotlight the organization's work.
As a published writer and author, Meyer's latest novel about youth bullying has received widespread nationwide attention.
He also recently helped organize a sustainability conference at San Diego State University.
What organization(s) do you volunteer for, and why?
I want to help the gay community and the environment of the community at large.
As a result, I volunteer with various organizations: Gay for Good, several marriage equality groups, the San Diego LGBT Community Center, San Diego LGBT Pride, AIDS Walk & Run San Diego, Coastkeeper, Friends of the San Diego River, and the 9/11 National Day of Service.
What motivates you to do the volunteer work you do?
To leave the world a better place than I found it.
When my cousin died a few years ago, I came to appreciate what a difference one person can make.
She never did anything earth-shaking, but she did so much to improve her neighborhood that when she died, the Pennsylvania State House stood in silence in her honor and they started naming things in her neighborhood after her.
Not that I volunteer for the immortality of having things named after me—my writings will live on after I am gone—but I want to have as big of an impact on my corner of the world as I can.
Do you volunteer because of your work, or not? And what do you do for a career?
I have done volunteer time with employers and some nonprofits for which I have worked for, but mainly I volunteer on my own.
And I am a writer—books, plays, screenplays, and articles for newspapers and magazines. And I speak around the country about bullying because that is what my last book, "Rounding Third," is about.
What is something that many people do not know about you?
Because I do so much in the community and seem so comfortable here, many are surprised that I came out so late. Feb. 29 will be the 16th anniversary of my beginning to come out.
Or that I had written two other books and a host of articles on topics besides gay issues.
What would you like to see change in the LGBT community?
I would like to see less hostility and cattiness.
I’d like to see people being more supportive of each other and less judgmental. I have a card above my desk with the quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”
What do you like most about the local LGBT community?
The sense of community. After not feeling like I fit in for so long, to actually belong to a community and to know so many people that just going to the bank or post office can become a visit with friends.
As bad as it is/was fighting for marriage equality, I met so many amazing, passionate people in the struggle, who have now become friends. Just as the fight against AIDS once brought the community together, now the fight for equal rights also unites us.
What sorts of things do you do to enrich your social life other than volunteering?
I do a lot of writing in coffee shops, which tends to be social, since I always run into people I know. I go to parties, I attend political functions. I go out for dinner or drinks with friends.
Note: If you or someone you know should be featured in an upcoming community profile, e-mail Ben Cartwright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top left photo: Walter with San Diego Unified School District board member Kevin Beiser. Middle left photo: Walter volunteering at a Gay For Good San Diego project. Bottom left photo: Walter speaking about youth bullying on a radio show.