July 3, 2010.
There is talk about getting mentor/elder programs going in the LGBT community/movement because in a sense this is the first time there have been LGBT people who have been in a movement to gain civil/equal rights for homosexual/LGBT citizens and have lived/experienced life as “out” citizens. (Don Kilhefner (and others) in L.A. is an example.)
What do we old people think is important to tell young people to help them understand how the United States came to be what it is today, for all Americans and for LGBT Americans, and in sense Americans of minorities, such as blacks, even women, etc?
I think there is a parallel. It is not necessary to give a list of dates, names and events to say that in 1776 some people got together, in secret in a sense, to form a nation and to get rid of the domination of England, or any other country. It was not a great time to do this, and there seemed little hope of defeating the military of England. And each generation since has had to work, fight and (many had to) die, to keep what those founders started and left for us.
In 1950, a group of homosexual citizens met in secret in Los Angeles and started an effort to educate themselves and then the rest of society on understanding homosexuality and trying to change society and the views of medicine, religion and legal professionals. It also was not a great time for such an undertaking — this was the McCarthy era.
And just as there was a question of loyalty of some early Americans and if they supported England or the new efforts to become a separate nation among the people in 1776, there was a question of the loyalty of homosexual public officials in the 1950s.
And yet the founders of this movement were successful, from the start, winning a historic, some (like Vern Bullough) say a “Rosa parks” moment in this civil rights movement (Dale Jenning’ victory in court, the first time someone had challenged the entrapment arrests of police) and then the U. S. Supreme Court victory in the ONE magazine case.
And each generation since has found more and more citizens, LGBT and allies, who stepped forward to join the work.
Most of us believe that life in America today is much better for all citizens, including minorities. The question is how much young people want to know how we got here and how best to keep making progress toward the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the ideals discussed in those Mattachine and later ONE meetings and found in ONE magazine, and later Mattachine Review, The Ladder, etc. Or how much young people understand the need to know what is in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and why there still is racism, sexism, and bigotry in this nation.
It seems that no matter how often we hear of the enemies and the why their thinking is wrong, we, each generation, have to remind citizens of why bigots must be defeated.
There are three issues that cause our troubles, and even though they are connected, they can be easily be confronted.
The start is the belief that our Constitution and the Bible are perfect. Neither are perfect. Both accepted slavery. That alone makes them imperfect. No one can say they believe in slavery today, but they did then. The founders recognized the moral problem, but compromised to get a nation started. It is less easy to explain how preachers, especially in the American South for generations quoted the Bible to affirm that black Americans were not equal to white Americans, or why at one time there were separate branches of major Christian churches, only because those branches supported slavery — the Methodist Church South and Southern Baptist Convention are two examples. Does anyone think they were right? They have apologized now and admit their error — which means they misused the Bible and made laws based solely on a religious teaching that was wrong.
The day will come when the current religious “leaders” and politicians will apologize for their views on LGBT citizens.
Connected to the religious issue is the part about child molestation. Last Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, a guest was discussing why America has difficulty in dealing with Afghan citizens and said that even though most of them didn’t like the Taliban, and its extreme religious (and thus government) rules, they can’t like the current “government” people who come to their area and rape their boys, either.
There had already been a documentary on this issue, dealing with warlords,which in a sense contradicts this statement. There is boy love in that and other Islamic nations. And there is worldwide confrontation with the Roman Catholic Church over priests who have molested children and those who protected them. Yet it is our community that is the one constantly falsely accused on being child molesters.
As usual, those who attack others for a “sin” are merely fighting the sine that is theirs — projecting on others there problem.
The last issue, “It is Icky,” was also discussed on TV last Sunday, when Fox News, no surprise, allowed Governor Mike Huckabee to “explain” his words talking about why homosexuality is icky.
Huckabee defended himself by saying he was merely quoting something in Edge magazine, apparently words by a University of Chicago Law School professor — perhaps Martha Nussbaum. She immediately said he was misquoting her. But the fact is that that is an issue. But again, one hard to understand, since the acts those bigots say they find “icky” are performed by heterosexuals. They also have anal and oral sex. So it is time to confront them with their hypocrisy.
While we need to get rid of DADT, DOMA, etc., it is the personal things that seem our major problem, and one that has all along been said the easiest to solve, since once we come “out” and our relatives, neighbors, friends, fellow workers know who we are, the lies go away and the vast majority of Americans will be comfortable dealing with us. That is what is happening with racial issues too.
It is hard for young people to know that at one time there were laws preventing people from interracial marriage, etc. And one of the main “arguments” against such marriages was “what it will do to the children.” That is the current argument in LGBT discussions of marriage, adoption, etc. This argument has lost power in the racial arena since all you have to do is look not only at the White House, but around you. Soon, openly, most of us will be interracial. Problem solved. The fact is that now if there is a “problem” with being interracial, it is a problem everyone has.
So it seems to me that there is a good reason to celebrate, as an American and as a homosexual/LGBT American. And to hope that young people will join in the effort to make our nation even more perfect.