Mar 15 2010

 Everyone likes being liked and almost everyone likes being accepted within a greater community. From our earliest years in elementary school we all have, in some form, attempted to fit in and be popular. Being left on the outside can be a dark and lonely place. Indeed, too many youngsters have committed suicide from that very place of isolation.

Lord knows I have struggled with the affliction of desperately wanting to fit in and be accepted. After all, it is hard to argue that being a part of a greater community and having others embrace your gifts is a bad thing. However, if we mistake our strong "Sally Field Syndrome" for what is required to be free then we are making a tragic mistake. In some sense, I feel we are already making that mistake.

Being liked, making others feel comfortable with us and being embraced by others is not a successful political strategy within itself. My body will be cold and gone before that yields significant legislation. Simply being visible and hoping our oppressors respect and like us is not a magic carpet ride to freedom. God knows it helps in that struggle and conducting ourselves in an open and respectful way will make it easier to build bridges between differences. But I fear sometimes when we bend over backwards to please others we end up pleasing no one.

First and foremost, nowhere in the Constitution of the United States does it state that everyone has to like each other and be comfortable with each other in order to be free. Believe it or not, we have the right to be free and equal even if we are the most unpopular kids on the block. In the pursuit of equality, waiting for mass approval is a recipe for disaster. Quite honestly, as much as I love being popular, I would give it all up for equality. Hopefully, I will conduct myself in a way that will attract others but if not, I could give a damn. I can't, I shouldn't and I won't be denied equality simply because some ill-informed segment of the population is uncomfortable.

In my heart, I believe the well-intentioned ad campaigns in the recent initiative battles with wonderful, supportive people proclaiming how we are just like everyone else have been a failure. Of course we feel better seeing pictures of ourselves with families, children and the other trappings of society. We know in our hearts that we love our children, honor our parents and bring gifts to America. Seeing those ads makes us feel visible and appreciated. Who could resist us after seeing those ads? Well, evidently a large bloc of voters did not feel it difficult to resist our lovable image. They voted against us a number of different times, most recently in Maine and California.

Am I impatient and unreasonable in wanting full equality now? Maybe I am.

I'd rather be impatient for freedom than delay my equality for someone else's political comfort. Tag me as a rampantly relentless advocate for total equality - I will take that tag as opposed to the one that says "Now is not the time...". Call me stubborn in my desire to breathe free air before I die. Paint me as an unreasonable advocate for insisting that our civil rights be a top priority and not at the bottom of some laundry list of issues where they will 'eventually get to us.' Yes, I am blatantly stubborn in my determination to have my freedom and full equality now. I believe it should one of the top priorities of this nation.

And it can be if we just insist on it instead of finding reasons why our allies can take a walk.

There is no question in my mind that we can push ENDA, and the repeal of DADT and DOMA at the same time. We are capable of a massive civil rights movement that can demand full equality and in that process inspire countless others as the civil rights movement in the 1960's did to my generation. The LGBT community is a magnificent entity filled with great talents. Even if others choose not to embrace us because of their baseless fears that does not mean we should withhold our immeasurable gifts from America. It means we should give them more freely. Not to be liked, but to be free.