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The Naked Truth
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Together We Win, Divided We Fail

A dear friend of Kathy’s 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 years.

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!

I know 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?

Terrified 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!

Fighting 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.

The advice in this column is the opinion of the writers and is not intended as a
substitute for medical or psychological treatment from a health care professional.

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