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Together We Win, Divided We Fail
dear friend of Kathys just turned 72. She and her sister, and their brother
are all gay, and they are almost positive their father was too. They are the poster
family for biological gayness.
Kathy sent her one of the Ecards from
the Amazing Dreams Publishing website for her birthday. It was a lesbian book
cover from the 1950s. Her friend sent the following message in reply:
"Thank you so much for the B-Day card. It was perfect. However I was not
out in the 50's. There was not even a bar for us to gather. We went to each others
homes and apartments. It was a crime to be homosexual, and we knew of people who
were arrested and jailed for short periods. Even in the 70's, the clubs were routinely
raided. Someone was always at the door and signaled with lights when the police
were on the way in. For that reason, the men and women went to the same bars.
If the lights flashed on, you grabbed the nearest guy and his partner grabbed
the nearest girl. Everyone else pushed into booths or around tables with whomever
they could. Back in those days, we could have been kicked out of school or lost
our jobs if outed. It has been an exciting but scary journey..."
What she wrote made me think about how gay people in those days had to work together
to protect each other. Then I thought of how it was when I was coming out in a
small town in Central Florida.
It was the 1970s, and Anita Bryant, the
homophobic Florida Citrus Queen, was in full swing at the same time I was realizing
I happened to be one of those homoSEXuals she was always screaming about on the
front page of our local paper and on the 6:00 news.
During that time,
I was an assistant manager at a small pizza shop in the local mall. I will never
forget the night a person dressed in full drag came into the shop and bought a
small drink from me.
It was a slow week night, and I was working the
counter by myself. In the distance I heard something I'd never heard while working
there--a bunch of yelling, laughing, and jeering from what sounded like an angry
mob. Since I was alone and 16, this really scared me. I ran around the counter
and looked down the hall, and I saw someone in a nice dress and high heels walking
towards me very fast. There was a big group of people of all ages who were following
her. These people were obviously not together in any way, besides in the harassment
of this person, who looked terrified.
Not knowing what to do, I went
back around the counter, and waited for the horrifying parade to come by, but
apparently the person in drag had spotted me, and she flew into the shop. I asked
if I could help her while the mob stood outside screaming words like weirdo, faggot,
and queer. She couldn't even count out the change for the drink she'd ordered.
As I counted the money from her shaking hands, I felt bad for her, but I
had no idea what to do. I was just kind to her, but while I was facing the stares
and the jeers of the crowd just outside the threshold, it was like they were saying
those horrible things to me too.
The person in drag thanked me, took
a deep breath, and faced the crowd alone. I was shaking myself, and tears were
rolling down my face, because this was the first time I had seen homophobia in
real life. I felt totally helpless to do anything, and I knew that the guards
at the mall wouldn't help her a bit.
This situation deeply affected me,
and I knew that being an out lesbian was not going to be tolerated in my home
town. I was very paranoid to ever say anything about being a lesbian, and I didn't
discuss it with anyone but my girlfriend and her lesbian sister for the next 8
Sadly, over three decades later, it seems what is going on in
this country is very similar to what was happening in the 1970s. There is still
intolerance in the media, and there are still religious, closet-case, fanatics
screaming that gays should have no rights, and these folks help to sway politics
to their minority views. We are still seeing gay people beaten and killed for
who they are--shot in the classrooms by 14 year old classmates!
things are getting better bit by bit, but after 30 LONG years, I still wonder
why is it OK for tax paying citizens who are LGBT to not be allowed the same rights
as everyone else? What country, or even century, are we living in? Have we gone
back in time? Where is "America The Beautiful" in the lyrics that Katharine
Lee Bates, A LESBIAN, wrote for her girlfriend?
Through the years, I
have seen a gap widening within our community that has to do with our basic human
differences. Many of us are not unified in any way, shape, or form, and this thing
of judging people because of who they are, whether they are gay men or lesbians,
transgendered lesbians or transgendered gay men, not butch enough or too fem,
Bears or drag queens, BDSM, leather, or motorcycle mammas, Bisexual, trisexual
(folks who will try anything once), or whatever label we put on our own selves--this
separation of our community into little boxed categories is what gives other people
power over us.
If we spend our time being negative with comments like
"Lipstick lez is so out." "He's such a queen!" "She's
a big dyke!" we will never get the equal rights we deserve as tax paying
citizens of this country.
Until we are able start loving each other as
unique human beings, who are all on this Earth together, why would we ever expect
anyone outside of our own culture to to do anything any different?
straight people talk about us having a Gay Agenda--what the heck is that, and
where are these meetings? We can't even get together enough to have a pot luck,
much less overturn the government and the sanctity of marriage!
and arguing about our differences only broadens the gap between us, and running
away from our differences and misunderstandings solves nothing. But if we work
together through communication and love each other as human beings, who all have
to live together on this planet, we can change the world!
We need to
turn on the lights for our LGBT Brothers and Sisters when harmful people are coming
our way; we need to open our eyes to what is really going on in the Home of The
Free and the Brave, and get out and work together for change! We need to be brave
and strong and show who we really are. Change is happening, especially when you
can see a mainstream talk show host's lesbian wedding on TV and her website:
Thanks Ellen for lighting the way for the rest of us to be open and free
about who we really are.
Our rights are at stake here. Together we win,
divided we fail, so let's join together, take back our power, and vote for the
people who truly have our LGBT best interests in mind.
NOTE: The advice in this column is the opinion of the writers and is not intended
substitute for medical or psychological treatment from a health care