It’s a Wonderful Life!
“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” So mused Clarence, the clumsy angel who made a variety of feeble attempts to earn his wings. This last article of Straight Talk for 2019 lays forth some reflections on a difficult year behind. There have been too many things that have brought equality to a screeching halt, or even forced us a few steps backward from the advance to which we had grown accustomed.
But this is a look instead at how lives have been changed for the better in 2019, how hope has been built, and how lives have been touched for the good. Let’s embrace the positive energy that keeps us going each day.
One of the more surprising developments in 2019 came with the first declared Democratic candidacy for president by an openly gay man. Mayor Pete, as we know him, has been the mayor of Indianapolis, Indiana, since 2012. He and his husband, Chasten Glezman Buttigieg, have garnered both curiosity and admiration for this unique status in the political realm. The fact that Pete is gay is secondary to the person he is, and what he brings to the campaign run for president. With degrees from Harvard and Oxford, he is fluent in seven languages and served the military with a tour in Afghanistan. Clearly one of the most well-spoken candidates on stage, Pete is making his mark in the Democratic race, as his polling numbers continue to rise.
Rocketman soared to box office success in May. It chronicles the life and music of Reginald Dwight, whom we know as Sir Elton John, with a “flashback” approach to the film plot. This movie grossed over $190 million. Particularly ground-breaking for the gay community is the fact that this film included a gay sex scene, a first for a non-specialty major film studio. The friendship and professional relationship he shared with Bernie Taupin came alive on the big screen. John is ready to celebrate his fifth anniversary of marriage to David Furnish; the two having been together since 1993. Well-known for his flamboyant costumes on stage, the closing credits to the film admit that he “still has issues with shopping.”
The CAMP Rehoboth bus ride to New York City on June 30 reinforced the advances made from the life-changing protest of 50 years ago at the Stonewall Inn. Tired of being raided and carted off in a paddy wagon, gay and trans people fought back to claim their right to assemble and enjoy each others’ company. As a Human Rights Campaign t-shirt stated, “The first Pride was a riot.” Not only is the US a diverse nation, but the 2019 International Pride Fest parade itself reflected the diversity within the LGBTQ community. From Dykes on Bikes to the flamboyant to the average citizen who simply wants everyone to be accepted on their own terms, this event marked a half-century of efforts on behalf of equality.
Cape Henlopen High School Board of Directors amended their Nondiscrimination Policy to add as a protected class that of “gender identity.” Sexual orientation had already been a protected class, so now gender identity complements the list. This policy feeds into the other policies in force throughout the school district, including specifically the Bully Prevention Policy. Here is hoping that a policy on the books translates to action in the classroom, and that all students may learn in an accepting environment, and thrive as they move to adulthood.
CAMP Rehoboth moved to a new chapter in its illustrious tenure with the hiring of David Mariner. No resume could have competed with his. His 11 years as Executive Director of the DC Center for the LGBT Community certainly provides CAMP Rehoboth with a leader who has the vision, energy, conviction, and endurance to lead the Rehoboth Beach-based non-profit into the next phase of its mission. As David takes the reins being handed him, he does so with an appreciation for the dynamic duo who not only laid the foundation but BUILT it from scratch, i.e. Murray Archibald and Steve Elkins. These men definitely touched many lives.
Stephen Manos shares, “As someone in the process of becoming a certified professional coach, I have learned the power of training your mind and heart to embrace positive change. One [way to do that] is reframing, where one chooses a different, or reframed, way of observing what goes on around oneself. I’ve found that this has improved my outlook on life, even in such a turbulent world as ours is today. In an era filled with angry competition, I choose to lead by contrast and make my corner of the world a little kinder.”
“Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings, Love, Clarence.” Thus ends the film Jimmy Stewart made famous. In 2020, make sure you have plenty of friends. May you all earn your wings! ▼
David Garrett is a straight advocate for equality and inclusion. He is also the proud father of an adult transdaughter.