Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Need To Be Political

Last Sunday, I stood on a sidewalk with about one hundred other gays, lesbians, and allies to protest the National Organization for Marriage who made an appearance at a local church here in the Orlando/Winter Park area. It was a very tame protest. No one was arrest. There were no fights or yelling. It was a simple demonstration: if you are going to go around the country in an RV and spread hate about gay people then you are going to have to do it in front of gay people. The attendees at the church were small in number and seemed either fascinated by the presence of the gays on the sidewalk or terrified. Mostly, they stayed inside.

This event made me miss my old life. Since moving to Florida, I've not had many opportunities to attend marches or protests. In college, Dustin and I did this often and both loved it. Yes, standing on that sidewalk Sunday did not suddenly change the world, but it still made an impact. The main problem with all gay issues is that there are tons of people in this country who never have to knowingly face a gay person. It is very easy to hate someone you don't know and have only heard horrible things about. Peacefully protesting at such events, like the one last Sunday, makes people at least have to put a visual with their hate. You are telling me I can't marry and shouldn't have equal rights not just some mythical gay creature some pastor made up. There are real people involved, and we aren't all like the happy homos on TV who are there to fix your hair and plan your hetero wedding (though after seeing one of the Concerned Women for America, I am wanting to start a group called Concerned Gays for the Concerned Women for America).

Florida has some of the worst gay laws on the books, yet I've found very few gay people in Florida who seem to care or seem to want to do anything about it. If you haven't noticed, gay rights are still being fought for every single day. We still don't have many basic rights that other citizens have and take for granted. The focus has been on marriage, but we can still be fired for being gay. We can't serve openly in the military. We can't give blood. In Florida, we can't adopt. This fight is far from over. Hate crimes against GLBT people are on the rise. Why don't people care? Orlando is full of gay people, yet only 100 took two hours out of their Sunday to stand up for equality. I'm not saying you have to devote your life to fighting this battle, but when the opportunity is there you have to take it. I don't do something political everyday, but I do live an open life. I talk about these issues with people I meet, and I write about them. A good portion of my poetry could be called "political." But even I know, I could do more and should.

I know many people who don't like it when I say you, as a gay person, have a responsibility to be out and to stand up and fight, but I don't care. It is true. Until more people, more gay people, take an interest in their own rights and equality nothing is going to change. There is a little glimmer of hope in California as I write this, but that doesn't mean the fight is even close to ending.

There is a time for action and this is that time. In some ways, I feel lucky to be alive at this point in history, and I hope someday to be a person who can say I remember when I couldn't get married.

-Stephen (Fighter)

6 comments:

  1. You can be president of Concerned Gays for Concerned Woman for America but I want to be vice-president! LOL

    I really think the key to equal rights is visibility. I think it's harder to discriminate once there's a face connected to it. Good post!

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  2. I'm glad you enjoy that kind of thing. I am trying to be more involved as well. I feel goofy and stereotypical writing about my friend, but I have one here who is kind of leading the way for me. She was fired for being gay. That's okay here in Ohio too. Makes my stomach turn.

    I agree with your first comment and what you said about putting a visual with the hate. People like to protect themselves from what is different and set it up as the enemy. It's weird to me that people (for instance, in CA) are whining about their right to vote being overturned, but they're voting to take away someone else's rights. What?

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  3. Christian: You can be my co-president!

    Jessica: Thanks so much for the comment and for reading. That is terrible about your friend. The devotion some people have to hurting others or denying people rights is something I will never understand.

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  4. 聰明人之所以不會成功,是因為他們缺乏了堅忍的毅力。.................................................

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  5. There are a lot of organizations (even some that are just fledglings) in the central Florida area that are becoming more and more outspoken, it's just a shame that you have to look so hard for them.

    I think it's possible that in central Florida a lot of would-be gay activists have grown complacent because Disney, Patty, and a lot of other public figures have done so much to make Orlando a relatively gay-friendly place to live. When a local business was vandalized w/anti-gay slurs, we offered to help out. They declined (respectfully) stating that they just wanted to go on with business as usual. I was fuming, but whatever.

    It is all about visibility, for sure. When this stuff happens, something needs to be said, loudly. I really would like to confront some of the people who voted in Prop 2 and who are now trying to make it illegal for gays to even be foster parents (McCollum, ugh).

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