ANYTHING But Straight
|by Wayne Besen|
|Visibility Is Victory
A few weeks ago, I wrote a controversial column, "Losing the Battle," which sounded the alarm that the GLBT movement is going backwards. This remains indisputably true on a political level, as our sworn enemies are increasingly sworn into office. Each morning we rise, we live the long nightmare of George W. Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-TN., and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-TX.
Nonetheless, I still remain hopeful as our community progresses in this most hostile of environments. The following is an excerpt from a speech I gave at South Carolina Gay Pride reflecting my confidence in our strength, resourcefulness and ultimate victory.
This year's Pride theme is "Creating a New Reality." Meanwhile, our opponents are in denial of reality. The world is changing, albeit slower than we may like. Nonetheless, we are moving forward. Two recent Boston Globe polls show that when we stand up and fight, we can change hearts and minds, and in the process change the world.
The first poll shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans believe gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military. Americans are finally beginning to realize that prejudice hurts the platoon and bigotry undermines the brigade. Misplaced morals are a danger to military morale and undercut unit cohesion.
In a second Boston Globe poll, 56 percent of Bay State voters now support the freedom to marry. This is amazing, considering that last year, only 35 percent of these same voters supported marriage equality.
Why the change in attitudes? There are 6,100 reasons, meaning the number of weddings for gay couples that have already taken place. When people meet our families the stereotypes vanish and disapproval disappears.
Last year, I went on a national book tour and visited countless communities. What I learned is the GLBT movement has firmly taken root in virtually every corner of this nation. From Salt Lake City to New York City, from the District of Columbia, to Columbia, South Carolina, there is no place where our struggle remains in the shadows.
But as we succeed, our opponents mislead. They grow desperate with each passing hour, and more dangerous as we achieve unprecedented power. The Neo-Puritan right is even willing to destroy democracy, so they can deploy theocracy.
My friends, this is the worst political environment in memory. And while we may not have the votes, we still have our voices. In this wretched climate, somehow, we are still climbing. If there is any group in America able to withstand the withering and increasingly vituperative attacks, it is those of us, here today.
I am so proud to stand with you as a member of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Just to be here, out and proud, we have overcome obstacles and persevered against prejudice and persecution. We are robust and resilient; vibrant and vital. And, we will succeed and create a new reality in America.
But first, we must turn our pride into passion, and our passion into action. Our future is in our hands and we must not drop the fragile object of freedom. One person can make a difference.
Think of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony and Rosa Parks. Their singular acts of courage liberated the world and unleashed the soaring spirits of millions.
While not everyone can lead a movement, we can all do our small part to move the world forward. Here are five things you can do:
1) If you have straight friends and family ask them to support full equality. You have taken the courageous step to come out. Now it is time your friends and family step-up.
2) If you are a person of faith, don't let counterfeit Christians such as Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and Pat Robertson hijack religion. Jesus never once mentioned homosexuality. Yet, these Pharisees are obsessed with the issue. If you are a Christian, whose priorities do you trust? Jerry Falwell's or Jesus Christ's?
3) Look around you and you will see that there is strength in numbers. Join a gay civil rights group today, because they need you and you need them. Together, we can win.
4) Get involved in the political process. I guarantee you that many of your representatives do not think that any GLBT people live in their districts. Come out to politicians in your area.
5) We can create a new reality, but first we must be real. Coming out turns the meek into mighty, and turns the passive minority into the massive movement. Visibility is victory.
Be out. Be strong. Be vigilant, Be Proud. And be the best openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person God intended you to be.
Thank You and Happy Pride Month!
Wayne Besen is an author, activist, columnist and public speaker. He may be reached at WBesen@aol.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 6 June 3, 2005