This past weekend, in Washington, D.C., our nation celebrated the opening of the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial. Only seven days before that, also in the nation’s Capital, a ‘Values’ Summit held by leaders of the regressive right, paraded speaker after speaker to a podium announcing how homosexuality presents a threat to the nation’s security, families, and probably the solar system. It was a message of intolerance and fear. Dr. King would not have stood for that, nor should you.
This week, emboldened by that conference, SFGN shares with you a front page feature story tendered to us by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It is a story of hate groups; organizations composed of people who don’t like you or what you stand for. They fear us because they don’t know us. They see the LGBT community as a threat to America.
Had they known us better, they would have seen that the gay community is as loving and peaceful and caring as the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, gathered above – celebrating their first anniversary in song – with music, harmony, and melody at the Pier 66 Rooftop on the 17th Street Causeway in Fort Lauderdale. They would see that whether we are Dolphin Democrats or Log Cabin Republicans, we care about our community just as much as they do. Also, this weekend, the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus returns with its 'Fall Follies' recital at the First Congregational Church. These groups are the voices of harmony and community. The only song sung by those religious right groups is of discord and disgrace. They speak in hate; we sing with love.
The gay community, which includes lesbians, gay men, transgender individuals, bisexuals, those questioning themselves, and our friends – that gay community is America. We are black and white, rich and poor, Christian and Jew, a mosaic of men and women coming together to simply survive and live our lives openly and honestly, decently and with dignity. To do that, as Martin Luther King did, we have to “remember the fierce urgency of now.”
Apathy and indifference can have no place in our lives. We can never be satisfied as long as the marriage or adoptive rights are different for gay men and women. We can never be satisfied if domestic partners and gay couples are treated differently by tax codes and ordinances, laws and regulations. We can never be silent with contentment when groups gather to censure and condemn us, simply because we are not who they want us to be. We don’t need reparative therapy to live our lives. We don’t need reparative therapy to live our lives. We need to sit in and stand firm against those who would harm us.
You can gather at the Fontainebleau in Miami with the Task Force at a national dinner, sing in harmony with a gay chorus, or march with Occupy Fort Lauderdale on the streets of a local city, but stand your ground and sound out your voice. Until we are ‘free at last,’ the first of us is not free.
The message from the citizen uprisings in Arab countries this past summer is now being heard in American cities this fall. Essentially, we are all asking to ‘occupy’ a seat at the table of fairness. We are experiencing a world of discontent, of unfulfilled aspirations. Here at home, in small communities and large cities, banks are screwing everyone, our economy is in shambles, our nation is still at war, and unsettling discourse surrounds every political corner.
Ultimately, in a world being made so much smaller by technology, which is so much greater, we are all coming a lot closer. But let’s never forget that last week we celebrated not just ‘National Coming Out Day’ on October 11. We also commemorated the unspeakable brutality of Matthew Shepard’s murder in Wyoming, on October 12, 1998, only 13 years ago.
Before freedom rings universally, there are hills and mountains still to climb; bridges to cross and roads to walk. May you find your path in those journeys.