The Democrats are getting it right.
Taking the microphone to explain to America why policies of George Bush and the Republicans have sent us into uncharted, dangerous, financial waters was a Women, a Black, a Jew, and a Gay.
The face of America at work; inclusiveness and respect demonstrated at the highest political level. And, looking just past these four leaders, we also know of the important work of our Congressman Xavier Becerra as special assistant to Speaker of the House Pelosi. Everyone working together insuring that hate and discrimination based on gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation will not be passed to the next generation.
A few years ago at the corner of Maywood and Colorado Blvd. – the location of the old Eagle Rock City Hall – Northeast LA’s Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance (UGLA) put up a banner celebrating Gay Pride month. Within hours, someone had scrawled “Fags and Queers” and “Fairies and Fruits” on the banner. The next day UGLA members painted “Moms and Dads,” “Brothers and Sisters,” and “Doctors and Teachers” to counteract the hateful slurs. The next day, vandals, unfazed, slashed the banner. What then followed was a series of slashing/replacing which finally stopped when the fourth new banner was posted.
For too long, the Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community allowed itself to be defined by others. Obviously, we are someone’s sons and daughters. And brothers and sisters and mother and fathers. In society, we are the clergy, lawmakers, medical givers, lawyers, educators, police, firemen, soldiers, truckers, artists, musicians — and your local hair dresser and florist.
We are your friends and your neighbors.
Excellent content of character, reliability and stature within society have been achieved by LGBTQs without the trappings or validation from society. Years ago, there was little or no support from families, churches, or governmental agencies for our community which is now under siege by Proposition 8 on the November ballot. (The proposition which would remove the right for same-sex couples to marry.)
This ignorance about the true nature gays and lesbians, transgendered, and bisexual men and women needs to be stopped and all efforts must be made not to pass this hate on to the next generation. Update: since the writing of this.
A good example of allowing LGBTQs to be open and fully accepted into society is U.S. Representative Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts — shown here). He has been in everyone’s living room this past week helping to handle the financial crisis. He is openly gay, has been in Congress since 1981, and is Chairman of the Financial Services Committee. A reasoned and respected leader.
On the other side is a closeted gay man, disgraced conservative Republican Florida Representative Mark Foley. Instead of being honest and open, he operated by keeping his homosexuality in the shadows. Obviously fearful and possibly shamed by hateful attitudes towards gay men and lesbians
But, why not keep it in the shadows? Why not keep it as disgraceful behavior? After all, “The Bible tells me so,” say some religious folk. But, just as logically, why shouldn’t LGBTQ folk be treated as equal members of society? Let’s be very clear. The Bible says lots of things. Back then, and now, the Bible served as a historical record of our understanding of God. We know that God’s power is infinite and inclusive. There is no doubt that God created all of us.
Unfortunately, this past year has been one of the most violent years on record of assaults on the LGBTQ community. Not only with brutal killings and beatings, but politically, with a lack of bills guaranteeing non-discrimination and equality. So far this year, several young people appearing to be cross-gender, and I might add, they were also kids of color, have been murdered, including California junior high school student Lawrence King. Larry was shot in public during the school day. His crime: acting too feminine.
Passage of Prop 8 will tell LGBTQ youth that the door to marriage – the societal norm for couples and families – is closed for them forever. Not only will they be objects of ridicule growing up, but they will be denied basic rights as adults.
We cannot let hate and discrimination to be passed to the next generation.
Occidental College in Northeast Los Angeles, a college attended by Barack Obama, has been helping to lead the way to galvanize the next generation of LGBTQ leaders. For a number of years, Oxy has hosted the Annual Models of Pride Conference, an outreach of Los Angeles Unified School District’s Project 10, a program formulated to help LGBTQ youth to be safe and to survive while receiving an education.
Project 10 founder, Dr. Virginia Uribe, established this program because, “Every young person has a right to a sense of self-respect and dignity. In public education we serve the needs of all our students. Some are gay and lesbian and we need to serve them too. We’re supposed to be teaching them to live in an increasingly diverse society. This shouldn’t be a place where prejudice is fostered. It’s where discrimination should be fought.”
Project 10’s 16th Annual Models of Pride Conference will be held at Oxy on November 1. Over 500 LGBTQ youth are expected to attend. UGLA is a sponsor of Project 10 and Dr. Uribe and her spouse Gail Rolf are both members of UGLA.
Whether we want to break the cycle of gangs, poverty, illiteracy, or hate, the first step should not be to pass laws that establish hate and discrimination in the State’s Constitution. Vote No on Prop 8. Don’t pass hate and discrimination to the next generation.
Carl Matthes is a native of Los Angeles and has lived in Eagle Rock for over 40 years. He is a former president and a current Board member of Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance. He is a former columnist and a current advisor to the Lesbian News, the oldest lesbian publication in America. He was editor of the GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) newsletter and a former GLAAD National Board member. He has also been a Board member of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
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