The other day at the Grille Restaurant, a very nice gentleman came up to me, and paid a compliment about SFGN. He said, “You should be very proud. Your newspaper is the voice for our community.”
No, it is not.
While I am very proud of SFGN, I do not pretend to speak for “our community.” There is no monarchy in our town. There is no King of the Queers, not in mayor’s seats or the chairs of executive directors running our collage of nonprofits.
We are all part of a community, and we represent a collection of individual voices. They are divergent. Some believe Donald Trump should be jailed or impeached. Some think he is a national savior.
I have never believed that our paper speaks for one voice, or that our “community” represents a singular interest. No, we are a multitude of colors and creations, none better than the other. Our “community” is as diverse as the many colors of our flag.
Our goal at this newspaper is to give the collage of voices the venues and opportunities to be published and heard. They can be critical and cutting, complimentary or celebratory. But they won’t be censured or silenced. Not here. Not ever.
SFGN encourages discussion, debate, and dissent. We are not here to be potted plants for political correctness. We are not arm ornaments for city commissions, elected officials, executive directors, or nightclub owners. We will cheer your successes but report on your failures. We will dare to go where bar guides and celebratory city newsletters do not.
A newspaper reports not just on the planes that land successfully, though. It is our duty to tell the stories of the crashes. We give pages to tragedy as well as triumph, our warts and wounds, not only our accomplishments and achievements. Today, though, our “Out50” celebrates some of our best.
Still, SFGN’s mission is to give a voice to everyone, from the curmudgeons who dare say our city water is green, to the activists who say every politician is a crook.
The powerless and the powerful both have a right to a platform. The dissenters as well as the decision makers each have an equal right to be heard. Both have a home and a voice here at SFGN.
I was thinking the easiest way to get published in this paper is to say something bad about us. I will move you to the head of the line. The disagreeable and the disenchanted may not be polite, but they will not be gagged or silenced here. Only cowardly federal judges do that.
As we applaud the achievements of this year’s class of Out50, I am thinking that it easily could be an Out 500. Our community has grown exponentially these past few years. There were far more nominees than names we could ultimately choose. The final tabulation represents our own diversity.
Our goal, frankly, has never been to single ‘out’ our stars and celebrities. SFGN’s goal has been to rather illuminate the multitude of persons who give light to our lives by living simply and justly each day. They represent individually who we are collectively.
Can we do well for ourselves and be right by others? That is our measuring stick.
Just because you are celebrating the names who made the list does not mean you can’t appreciate the good deeds of those who have not.
Pericles said it best hundreds of years ago: “The glory of Athens is won with decent citizens doing their duty each day.”
SFGN is midway through our tenth year and approaching our 500th issue. My hope is that we continue to serve you well, but as I said in the opening line, we represent your voice. Hold us to the challenge, and 500 issues from now, we will still be there for you.
We don’t and can’t always agree with everyone or everything. We each have our own opinions and directions; our own flavors and tastes. The LGBT community knows that better than anyone. We should be the most accepting.
SFGN will commemorate our achievements and applaud our victories. But we will never be ashamed of our defeats. As we have in the past, we will gather ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and march again and again until equality is within our grasp and justice by our side.
We have all come a long way. Never forget though, that while we are celebrating by the shore, there are still those treading water in the ocean.
Sunlight and transparency is what we really celebrate with gay pride. Our lives will not be denied. Our dignity will not be demeaned. We will not hide in closets anymore. We will proudly hold hands and march in the streets. One day, we will even serve in the White House.
May you find pride in your lives every day.