Last week, Rabbi Greg Kanter wrote a guest editorial entitled, ‘Thank God I am Gay.’ It was actually an article we once published in the Express Gay News. Some truths last forever, though, and they deserve to be heard again. You won’t get hurt by reading Aristotle more than once.
As courts debate gays in the military, gay marriage, and gay equal rights laws, we get so caught up in the here and now that we forget the past.
35 years ago, being gay in Florida could keep you out of the Florida Bar because your conduct was presumptively “immoral.”
25 years ago we had a President who would not mention the phrase HIV or AIDS in public.
15 years ago there were communities that routinely treated homosexual acts as crimes against nature.
5 years ago there was barely a city that had same sex protections statutorily codified.
Our inverted Spirit on the back pages of this issue is just partial testimony to how far we have come, but it is also a reminder of just how far we have to go. Hell, we are still fighting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, not just in the courts but against those who want to deny us equal rights even to fight for our country.
Let’s never forget how our partnerships were once branded as the love that dare not speak its name. Few persons had the courage of AM radio talk show host Neil Rogers, who came out on the air in 1976, emerging in South Florida for the next three decades as its premier broadcaster. Grave health is- sues have compromised his retirement, so let’s wish him well for speaking out for us when so few would dare to.
Today though, gay retirees do not have to be alone. There are senior care partners like Chris Place, who we profiled last week in SFGN, or retirement communities like Forest Trace, kind advertisers in our paper. There is Sun Serve and Sage and the elder care center on the campus of Sunshine Cathedral.
We live out in the open, not behind closets. We are not yesterday’s Boys in the Band, a play you must see, still running for two weeks at the Rising Action Theater.
This week, we may have lost a battle in circuit court for Mikey Verdugo to get his job back with the City of Hollywood.
But we found a hero in a former cop who was willing to stand his ground and fight for his rights in a court of law.
We found another gay rights hero in his pro bono counsel, George Castrataro, armed with research from Nova Law interns, pointing out the inherent bias against gay professionals in the workplace. Pride is when in the face of adversity you have the courage to make a difference. Both men this year have.
Pride is more than walking down a boulevard shirtless with balloons. No, pride means maintaining the moral tenacity and the personal fortitude to raise your voices against those who would reduce you to a second-class citizen. The politics of homosexuality is going to be won by our continued openness in classrooms, communities and our workplace.
Pride is when love finds a home and bullying finds the door. Pride is when gay men and women can adopt and raise children without first having to go to court or serve openly in the military without having to wait for congressional approval.
Pride is when people count us for what we do in the daytime, rather than who we sleep with at night. What we do in our bedroom is our business. What we do in realty offices, banks, schools, courtrooms, hospitals and everywhere else is make America a better place to live for everyone.
We have just celebrated Thanksgiving and we prepare for the Holidays, but let us always remember there are still battles to be won and causes worth fighting for. Whatever you do, don’t remain neutral. In the middle of the road you will only find yellow lines and dead skunks. Find the time to spread good cheer. Find the time and energy to make your community a better place. Helping others today will make your life rewarding tomorrow.
On behalf of SFGN, one week after Thanksgiving, let me wish you the beginning of a great holiday season. Let me also thank you for your investment in us, and allowing us to be your credible, conscientious, community newspaper, delivering facts not fluff. This paper will never be just an agenda for advertising, but instead will always be your forum for issues and ideas. By sharing your advertising dollars with us you support a free and open gay press in a straight world. Thank you for enabling us to be your voice. We will stand by your side always.