WhoWhatWhenWhereWhy&How . . .

Robert Bush, ESQ
I grew up in Warner Robins, Georgia and the Baptist Church.  They seem interchangeable in hindsight.  
My subconscious was plugged into the fact that I was gay, but it successfully compartmentalized my mind so that in early college, I had taped up the radio controls to keep me from switching to secular radio, and I was intending to go into the ministry.  That was the intensification just before I began to think for myself.   Many people who don't have the experience don't realize that the mind can surreptitiously hide your sexuality from you, even if, at times, you may have acted on it.

Finally, I came out in law school but only in defiance of a cadre of fellow students who saw me leaving a local club that gays frequented.  It was either walk the hallways abashed or meet it head-on with pushback.  I pushed back, and thereby began settling into the full awareness and acceptance of the fact that I was gay.  Estrangement from the birth family followed, but we're at peace now and show each other love and support.

Savannah has been my home since September 25th, 1989.  My professional life has occurred here.  I am most proud of having been allowed by Georgia Legal Services to create and manage the HIV/AIDS Legal Project, which operated for thirteen years.  
We took on whatever we could that came our way; whether it was federal litigation, an HIV waiver of deportation, custody cases, or even meeting our clients at the ER to argue them into admittance when hospitals did not want to treat them.  We engaged in systemic advocacy and taught seminars at several local, state and national conferences.  I know that my passion to work in HIV advocacy sprang, in part,
from my being a part of the population most obviously hit early on in the epidemic.  

In 2004, the Stonewall Bar Association presented me with an award for Outstanding Service to the Stonewall Community in Atlanta.  The Stonewall Bar Association is a professional association of attorneys, judges, law students, other legal professionals who support the rights of the gay community and oppose discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. I was the first attorney outside of Atlanta to receive that award.  I mention this since it's gay advocacy...and I'm proud of it. 

WHO has most inspired you within the realm of the social consciousness and legal work that you do? The attorneys I've worked with for years.   We meet at
case acceptance every week, and these are people I know well who have stayed
with public interest law because they care, and they continue to be effective because they care.

WHAT was it like to be a white, gay man raising African-American children here in Savannah? WHAT is it like today?  Because my children were teenagers, we didn't face a lot of interference.  There were times where either race or my sexual identity might have been an issue, but the kids and I just didn't let it matter to us.
We grew into a strong family.

WHEN did you last see a movie that really affected you? 
I could list my 237th viewing of Dumb and Dumber, but I'd appear to be name-dropping, so I'll be honest and say, Turtles Can Fly, the first movie out of Iraq since the invasion.  The reality for the children and adults living there is unimagineably harsh, but the movie tells the story w/some humor and with sensitivity…that and Mother, a brilliant recent South Korean film.  But Dumb and Dumber really is in my
top ten.   Oh, I have to mention Longtime Companion, I watched recently with my neighbor Nicole.  I remember seeing it for the first time in law school, and it was the first time that I had seen gay relationships presented onscreen without judgment or self-consciousness.  Later, after working with HIV, I realized that the way AIDS looks in that movie is exactly the way it deteriorated bodies and minds in real life, it's not Hollywood.  I saw so many familiar, heartbreaking images, and teared up.

WHERE is your ideal place for the perfect meal in Savannah?
The house salad at Cafe on 37th, with candied pistachios, goat cheese, a tangy vinaigrette, is my favorite salad in the city, and everything else I've had there has been well turned out.  I like the barbeque from Emerald City on Bull and Victory.  
I usually get the chicken, but like the lamb, as well; Wall's has the best sides, and good barbeque.  The savory tarts and Croque Monsieurs at Papillote are excellent,
and I miss Mom and Nikki's, especially the oxtail.  Sushi Zen, La Xalapena, the lamb chops at Sol, the baked cheese sandwich at Brighter Day, and the pastries at Harris Bakery are favorites.  That being said, my neighborhood is fertile with good cooks,
and my favorite meals have been on our porches and at our tables.

WHY is Baldwin Park--your neighborhood--such a special place? 
The diversity of our residents, with the common denominators of tolerance and acceptance, make Baldwin Park a special place.  I'm proud to live where most of my neighbors aren't agitating to make the hood look more, act more like them.  There's an effort to stretch and accept.  That, and we have a large proportion of creative folk.

can your average "Joe" make a difference locally within the ever-more-complex fabric of legal justice for ONE AND ALL? 
There are scads of opportunities to agitate for justice in this state, in this community.  Georgia ranks in the lowest quarter of just about every indicator of well being of its citizens in the nation!  Why do we put up with this?  Our legislators struggle every legislative session to put their names on bills authorizing the presence of firearms everywhere from the public library to their bathtubs, but they can't meaningfully address healthcare, highways or smart growth.  They cut off our fingers and toes to lower taxes.  Defunding government is disemboweling the one body that can implement strategic redress for societal problems, such as the lack of trauma centers, advancing our state technologically, educating our children, or just creating a better overall quality of life for us, citizens of the wealthiest country in the world.