Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stand Up and Be Counted

Life has come relatively easy for me. I have awesome parents who love all of us kids till the ends of the Earth. I've done well in school and in business. Oh, sure, it is always easy to look at what more I could be, richer, smarter, more athletic, more, more, more. That's the American way, I suppose. Still, all in all, I've been a pretty lucky little guy.

It's easy to take what I have for granted. After all, it just is. Sure, there was hard work involved but that was then. Now is now. However, I also realize that what I have was built upon the backs of those who sacrificed for me to have the life I have today. My grandparents and parents who toiled long, scrimped and saved that their children and grandchildren might have better lives. The teachers and other signficant people who saw promise and pushed me along. Even so far as our founding fathers who created this great country at great risk to their personal lives.

When we look to the rights of gays and lesbians in this country, it is no different. From the brave souls at Stonewall who risked arrest to protest harassment by the establishment to the many volunteers who spend their lives to push for greater rights, both legally and politically, all of them have stepped up to be counted.

Ironically, those who perished of AIDS, also stepped up and were counted. They did not die in vain. That singular tragic disease did more to push gays and lesbians into visible society than perhaps any other event. There, in the early eighties, when our friends, our celebrities (like Rock Hudson) and those we cared about started to die, that was the point where gays and lesbians suddenly and palpably became acutely visible to society. Even more than that, gays and lesbians were all among us: our relatives, our heros, our friends - the people that we cared about. Perhaps it was that very ability to live in hiding, that fed the disease in the first place.

No matter. Hiding has taken too many. From those who died of AIDS to the children who commit suicide rather than face a world where people hate you for something you can hide but cannot not change. There are few other minorities where people you care about may spout hateful, bigoted thoughts right to your face, not knowing that they knifed you with every word, for they did not know.

It's got to stop somewhere. Enough have died. Enough have suffered. That we are even having the debate over whether gays and lesbians can marry shows great promise and progress. That we are even having the debate, shows how far we have come. That we are having the debate shows how much further we must go.

Stop the hate. Vote no on Proposition 8 and stand up and be counted.

1 comment:

Birdie said...

What an eloquent plea for a basic right that takes nothing from anyone else and gives dignity to people who have long deserved more. Well done.