Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the largest gay massacre in America. I did not know that until I saw this post on Facebook today. In June of 1973 I was enjoying the summer break between my 2nd and 3rd grade years in grammar school. Forty years have gone by and not one of my educators mentioned this massacre. I have worked and lived in a gay city my entire adult life and I have not heard about his until today. How is that possible?
Tomorrow the SCOTUS is going to announce their decisions on marriage. If it goes our way, do we just say “thank you” and blend neatly into hetro-normative society forgetting all the hate? Do we continue to bury this type of history because it makes the middle class assimilationists uncomfortable?
I’m just asking here, because the burial of this story for forty years – the story of my people being hideously murdered in mass – is outrageous.
Again, how is this possible?
Seth Godin says, heretic = artist = leader. I like that.
This heretic is here to change your life – our lives, the lives of gay men and anyone who is effected by gay men. The change will not be easy. It never has been. But it is necessary, and the rewards are enormous. No matter how comfortable it becomes for gay men there will always more work to be done. For gay men, the status quo is not only unjust, it is dangerous. What is true today will not be true tomorrow. The era of change is upon us. We either lead the change or accept what happens to us and our culture by external forces. The good news is that there are more opportunities to effect change than ever before. Social connectivity platforms have suddenly given us all a voice more equal than at any other point in man’s history. What are you saying with yours? How are you using it to effect change?
The challenge, is getting past your own fear.
Writing these words on a public web site is not done without fear, but I am doing it nonetheless. I have faith that others in the tribe will be moved to create their own change, your own change, that is parallel to my own. Create something that is true to your own authenticity, that is diverse, and is vibrant. Let me be clear, I am not asking you to follow Mike’s prescription for change. I am asking you to create your own, give voice to it, and lead others who respond to your message.
I will not be deterred from action or agree to “not now” assertions by those whose fear has paralyzed them. Many of these assertions are coming from our usual enemies or the institutions build by GLBT people. It turns out my own tribe is not immune to the lures of the status quot.
I will not accept attempts to shame me by those saying I’m being selfish by focusing on the needs of my gay brothers when so much work remains undone to save the planet, on human rights, on minority rights, and on GLBT rights in general. What I will do is focus on the dignity of my own tribe and celebrate the leadership other leaders give to their tribes. When that happens, not only will the lives of gay men get better, but so will the lives of GLBT people in general and those of the entire planet.
The ripples of dignity fueled change lift up the lives of everyone. Feed your tribe.
Stop asking permission. Start leading.
Be the heretic that ads light to the color band of the rainbow that speaks to you. Celebrate its uniqueness, promote its message, and foster the people who are drawn to your light. It will happen. It is happening. And every time that it does, we all win.
Do not be deterred by the establishment; by those asking you to wait, asking you for the polls to change, or for permission that comes from a hierarchy. The hierarchy is no longer vertical, it is horizontal. YOU are the hierarchy. There are no longer people above you and below you. There are only people beside you. I am beside you. Many more are beside you waiting for you to lead them.