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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fatherhood Friday post: Get off your ass and do something


My friend Brad on Live Journal posted this today, and I am doing his bidding and sharing it with you. I would ask that you do the same if you agree, hell, if you don’t agree, send it anyways. His words brought a tear to my eye and a fire to my heart that I haven’t felt since last year. Obama promised us HOPE and CHAGE, but we are getting more of the same. While I realize that there are other pressing issues on his plate, these are just as important. Read Brad’s words and let them inspire you to do what needs to be done.

Brad, take it away…

Today marks one year ago that I gathered with my family, friends, and fellow Obama campaign volunteers to watch the election results come in to campaign headquarters in celebration of all the things we have worked so hard for. Today I also woke to the news of the repeal in Maine that takes legal rights away from gay & lesbian citizens of that state. My friend and former boyfriend Tom is from Maine and lives there with the love of his life, Ray, with whom he has made a family for 15 years now. I called him this afternoon after hearing how distressed he was to offer some comfort and solace, and to encourage him to not be defined by this or to allow his love, his life, or his family to suffer one millisecond more of pain inflicted by these horrible people responsible for making this happen. Fortunately for us, love wins out and he and I both are fortunate not only that we have such a bounty of love in our own lives, but that we can celebrate it in each other because it matters.

There is a lot of responsibility that needs to be assumed and taken up. It's time once again to stop being complacent and start getting proactive, to start engaging one another and to call out those who mean us harm wherever they might be - loudly, without restraint, and without apology. ALL OF US have this responsibility, not just my GLBT brothers and sisters, but all of our straight friends and allies - if indeed you are our friends and allies. You can no longer stand idly by and watch as we suffer these indignations like it doesn't affect you, and if it doesn't affect you to watch those of us you call loved ones suffering the tyranny of second class citizenship, then we must force ourselves to question our loyalties to you. You cannot have it both ways because this is too important, and we can no longer afford to pretend that your silence isn't complacency. Speaking for myself, I would do that for each and every one of you because it is right and because it matters, and I cannot accept anything less than the same in return.

Regret is a terrible, numbing, cancerous thing. A few short decades ago hundreds of thousands of white people in this country stood by and said nothing when black people were denied civil rights, when they were tortured and killed, and they maintained an uncomfortable silence about how wrong this was, how evil discrimination is, all of the things they knew were true yet kept to themselves and those like them for fear of becoming vilified. That's a terrible thing living in that kind of fear, but it is also a wholly unnecessary thing and let's be honest - it's WRONG. It is WRONG to see an act of injustice and say nothing. It is WRONG to hear someone preach hateful speech about people you love and respect and say nothing. It is WRONG to maintain the status quo for the sake of comfort when it creates damage in the homes and lives of those you claim to love and respect. Moreover, it is WRONG to be silent amongst those perpetuating a wrong and not call out what you know is RIGHT. Silence is acceptance, and your silence is not good enough anymore. It never has been.

I am tired as I write this. I am life-tired. With everything that is going on in my personal life, I cannot help but be exhausted. I've been this tired before and I will be this tired again, but damnit - that's NO excuse to sit on my ass and not do any and every thing I can to say and do something that matters. That's all it takes, really - the courage to look fear in the eye and the drive to look into the faces of those who may never agree with you, who may very well even turn on you, even the will to push exhaustion aside long enough to make a declaration.

Because it matters. Because as my beautiful friend Greg recently learned and shared with me, it is a fact that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioniong teenagers are more likely to complete a suicide attempt than their heterosexual contemporaries - and one of them could be YOUR child. Because approximately one in four underage kids who come out to their parents are kicked out of the house. Because an estimated 40+% of the teenagers in NYC alone are GLBT and were kicked out of their homes are homeless by their god-fearing parents' indifference to love in favor of embracing religious hysteria. Because the average duration of life on the streets is one year after which it's death or prison. Shelters are run internally by gangs like crips, bloods. Sissy boys and butch girls are safer on the streets. Because there are homeless teenagers dying of HIV/AIDS as I type this that are beyond medicine and in support volunteers' homes so that they won't be forced to die alone. Greg knows this because he is volunteering his time for these kids, these children, the very same ones thrown into the trash by parents who are likely the chief constituent voting bloc that is responsible for the decision in Maine. Which, by the way, should never have been up for a vote in the first place.

That's what we're teaching our children, be they heterosexual or otherwise. That is what they are learning whether they are hearing it from the misguided voices harmonizing their collective bigotry or the deafening silence that results when such things are not being called out in opposition for the true evil they represent - and as I stated earlier, silence is acceptance.

So I'm challenging you all to share these words with as many people as you can. Repost word for word or cut and paste what you can personalize if you must, but you have an opportunity to throw a gauntlet down and step up and be a hero for me and people just like me, and we have never needed you to rise to this challenge more than we do now. Do it because it takes balls to do a courageous thing, no matter the cost. Do it because enough people have been beaten, tortured, and killed for simply being who they are and their voices and their hopes and dreams have been stolen from us all - and you can be their voices, hopes, and dreams so that their suffering is not in vain. Do it because nothing is faster than the speed it takes for compassion to die and it is the death of compassion that makes all of this necessary in the first place. Do it because Matthew Shepard can't and you can.
Or do it for the best reason possible - no reason at all - because you don't need a reason to do the right thing.

The choice to speak out in agreement is yours; I can only hope you will share this message with others. As many times as I've done this and seen one flame light a thousand torches to provide illumination for others to see, it isn't a choice for me - it is a necessity - a responsibility - and while your complacency is and will continue to be heartbreaking, I'm never giving up this fight until such a time that conversations in the future refer to this kind of discrimination against families like mine as a thing of the past. Do you understand what I'm saying? I will not be complacent, I will never give in to people telling me what is right and fair when they couldn't be more wrong, and I will no longer stand up to support those who will not do the same thing for me because they'd rather be cowardly and prefer the comfort they take for granted, something I refuse to do.

It is your turn to share this and spread these words so that others may do the same from your example. It's one small action that is all I'm asking for right now. It is your turn to say something, what will YOU do?