Editor’s note: Common Ground is an initiative to build bridges through conversation between the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans an queer community and people of faith in college athletics. It is spearheaded by the NCAA and various advocates and administrators across sports. Common Ground 4 is taking place this week at Brigham Young Univ. You can find more information at NCAA.org.

This is part of a series from Common Ground participants.

I search trying to determine how I can simply tell others how I landed with a great group of dedicated people who are striving for the preservation of liberties that life must have.

I am Negro, Colored, Black, African-American (still don’t know what that last one actual means). I classify myself as Black although I am more Brown than Black.

My birth certificate states that I am colored. When I received that tag they must have known my soul because I have the personality of a kaleidoscope. So if they saw my colorful soul, I believe they got it right. But my complexion is far from colored.

Growing up Black learning from the streets of New York

I am a product of a single-parent household raised by a strong Negro, Colored, Black, African-American woman who raised three boys without a husband, father or dad. She knew she could take care of her family but she could never be a man.

She paired me up with strong male mentors of various hues who helped and mentored me as I traveled the streets of New York City learning more about cultures, people and history than in any classroom or text book.

In my 60 years of existence as a human being I have been blessed to be an American while also experiencing the negative side of being a Negro, Colored, Black African-American. Treated with uncivil behavior, negative attitudes, stereotyped and oppression, I fight for human rights.

I was raised in the church but rarely attend services because my foundation of life is about right and wrong. That’s how my mother raised her boys. Right over wrong equals who you are.

My flame of faith has taken me on my yellow-brick journey, a journey on the path of righteousness.

When I was asked to be part of Common Ground I jumped at the opportunity because we all stand on Common Ground, although there are individuals who will pull the rug out from under your feet causing one to tumble. That’s OK because adversity is a part of life and we must manage adversity. Adversity will make or break you. You might bend but you can never ever break.

Adversity will make or break you. You might bend but you can never ever break.

My first Common Ground meeting was enlightening because I was exposed to passionate folk who struggle with having a freedom of choice. As human beings we travel in like corridors and oftentimes we do not make the effort to take the staircase to other levels.

Common Ground provides the fellowship, strength, commitment and encouragement for individuals to take the walk and explore different levels of life.

Common Ground is an emotionally driven approach to understanding the true beauty of life that people have options to be who they want to be. I am a member of Common Ground because I believe in freedom and that people have choices to be who they want to be.

How we treat others

As long as individuals are not adversely impacting the well-being of others, no one has the right to mistreat them or dictate to them how to live their lives. This is my fight, this is my passionate position.

This is my quest on my yellow-brick journey.

I am not a true person of faith because I am a sinner, but I am faithful, I am a heterosexual male, and I am Black. I live a life of diversity and inclusion because the people in my life are people without tags but of soulful colorful spirit.

It is a blessing to be part of a team that seeks to find a place where we can find common ground between sexual orientation and religion. It has been a wonderful educational experience.

Life is a revolution to evolution.

Common Ground allows individuals to evolve so they can be who they want to be. We bask in the moment because the moment in NOW, and NOW is the moment that never ends.

Enjoy the moment. It is eternal but it has finality.

Clyde Doughty is the Vice President of Athletics & Recreation at Bowie State University, an historically black university in Maryland. You can follow him on Twitter @clyded.