OpEd: 45 Years Later

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Forty-five years after Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon, legal pot and gay marriage have landed on America's doorstep.

It is one small step for men, one giant high for mankind.

Gay couples demanding to get married is totally inconsistent with what I originally thought being gay was all about. What ever happened to hedonistic nights at the Copa or on Fire Island, waking up stoned and hung over with someone you did not know the night before? A guy whose name you still did not know the morning after?

Gay life was supposed to be an expression of independence, free from conformity and social norms. Gay life was sneaking yourself away from straight friends to conduct a late night rendezvous on the side of a mountain in Laguna Beach. We weren't supposed to be having wedding ceremonies there. When the hell did we become normal?

Gay life was supposed to be a political struggle so you could go to gay bookstores and watch eight-millimeter porn films in tiny booths for 12 minutes and 25 cents without being harassed by the police. When the hell did we ever start running gay and lesbian film festivals that get sponsored by Wells Fargo?

Gay life was having a college gay rights group form and be allowed to exist on a campus, demanding equal access to a student affairs budget or committee room. When did we start becoming student council presidents or electing transgender people as prom queens. Weren't they supposed to be getting electro shock therapy to make them 'normal'? Or was that us too?

Gay life was forming groups like GUARD, Gays United Against Repression and Discrimination, fighting off police brutality and legal intolerance. How did we suddenly become mayors of the town, issuing proclamations for PrideFests?

Times change, and we do with them. We have grown and matured as a society. When Nadine Smith first came to visit me to tell me about the formation of Equality Florida, I am guessing she did not expect to be invited to the White House a decade later as a national LGBT leader. Weren't we just a few years ago chaining ourselves to the White House fence to protest excluding gays from the military? When did we become the Undersecretary of the Navy?

Forty-five years ago, at Woodstock, a group of young people came together in a music festival that rocked the world. It was the dawn of a counter cultural revolution that still impacts America today. I don't suspect that when Bob Dylan took the stage in Bethel, New York that rainy summer afternoon in August of 1969, he ever thought he would be performing in the White House East Room for an African American president one day either. But it happened.

Ultimately, we have found we were never really that different from anyone else. We all want peace and harmony, friends and family, truths we can live by and people we can trust. We want lovers to love and partners to share lives with. Black or white, straight or gay, Russian or American, we just want to be left to be who we can become. Why the world continues to tell us who we must be is so beyond me. Isn't it enough of a problem to run your own life without telling people how they should manage theirs?

Stonewall was a riot, Woodstock a music festival. The message is that if you stay within yourself, and achieve your best, whether you are an astronaut, activist, or artist, there is no height you cannot reach, no goal you cannot attain, no mountain you cannot climb, no moon you cannot orbit. Be careful, though. We may have knocked down a few obstacles, but the broad and primrose path can still lead to a nasty place. The road is open and inviting, but don't be lethargic.

Dreams can come true, but it's all up to you. Make your dreams happen.


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