I am hurting today, shocked and dismayed by the legislative terrorists in Florida trying to dismantle LGBT protections in our state.
It’s a regressive and stunning setback for us, conspiratorially orchestrated by an evil governor seeking a winning path to the Oval Office chair. I can’t believe it is happening, but he represents a national right-wing backlash to all things gay or transgender. He is your enemy, using fake "parental rights" to suppress your own.
It’s unreal to me. You spend 40 years fighting for civil rights and now run into a governor trying to unravel that progress in 40 days. Don’t you dare be silent.
Thirty years ago, I stood on a podium with Dean Trantalis, Beverly Cothern and Jamie Bloodworth. We were all co-chairs of the United Citizens for Human Rights. By our side would be people like Robin Bodiford, Gary Steinsmith and a host of our earliest gay leaders, all of whom gave up so much to push the needle forward, little by little.
Too few leaders, outside of Sheriff Ron Cochran, county executive Lori Parrish, and a smattering of others, stood in our garden. Now there is a governor who wants to uproot us, spin a half-century of progress back overnight.
We can’t let it happen. We won’t.
I am grateful today though. I still have a small voice with my radio show, as a lawyer, and as the publisher of the largest weekly gay paper in Florida. Dean is the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, speaking everywhere every day, about new buildings and old bridges. But we are not alone. Look who we now have by our side today.
I am not going to just talk about the state and national organizations that collectively lobby for the gay community in legislatures across the country. From the HRC to Equality Florida, we have voices that did not even exist 25 years ago. There were no dinners for us at the Westin on the beach or cocktail parties on Las Olas. There were soapboxes on street corners.
I am talking about the host of individual legislators like Shevrin Jones and Carlos G Smith whose words are heard every day on talk shows, in papers and social media, from Facebook to Twitter. We are not walking or standing alone anymore. We have many friends on our side, along with partners in power, from local school boards to pastors, presidents and a sea of media masters, like Rachel Maddow and Don Lemon.
In SFGN’s email bank, there are a host of columns that have been sent to us by a wealth of writers and spokespersons who want to be heard in opposition to these laws — more than we can publish. That did not happen 20 years ago, when a young Brad Buchman stood alone outside a church with a bullhorn.
We may not be winning this moment, in this rotten, repressive and regressive environment, but it is far better to be on the right side of history, aligned with a just cause that will eventually prevail, than an unjust cause that will inevitably fail.
One of my favorite beliefs is engraved not far from the tombstone of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. It reads “if a man stands his ground, and there abides, the whole world will eventually come round to him.”
The LGBT community is not unlike hundreds of thousands of African Americans who stood before the Washington Monument with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nearly 60 years ago and heard him speak “We shall overcome.” So he did, and so shall we.
We need to be there to abide by it.
It is 2022, and state and federal legislators know the gay community and its progeny, transgender or not, is not a threat. We are partners who are a part of our community, not apart from it. You can’t legislate us out, no matter what asinine bill you pass into law.
Not unlike innocent citizens under attack, we are being invaded. Our sovereignty is being violated. We have to gather and galvanize forces on our side, from powerful corporations to citizens of conscience. We have to unleash our economic power and mobilize all our forces against these anachronistic laws.
I am counting on banks of lawyers to overwhelm the courts, and for you to help. There is no looking away. Put down your mimosa.
This is a call to arms.
Our freedom is at stake, not only in Florida but in Texas and wherever spiteful and hateful people gather, maybe the Supreme Court itself.
We live in a challenging world facing a European war, global warming, climate change and so many perilous moments.
I look back at a life that began with the dreams of Woodstock in the Age of Aquarius, and it stings. It is like the love poem of TS Elliot, which ends with the sad lines “this is not what I meant at all, not what I meant at all.” It is not the world I wanted.
A resuscitation of hate has thrown a hand grenade at us. A political war has come our way. We must fight it, not only for yourselves, but for all those who fought for us; for those who now courageously stand with us.
Stand firm, my friends.
We are not alone. We will not be denied. We will "say gay," again and again and again.
Our day will come.
“It is impossible for us to not take this personally,” @CarlosGSmith on HB 1557, the #DontSayGay bill moving closer to passing the Florida House.