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Posts Tagged ‘Stonewall

Passing the Torch

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In any war, the battle is essentially being fought for the generations to follow:  for our children.  And, their children.  Warriors lay their lives on the line so that their kids, their kids kids, can have a better, safer, happier life.  The “warriors” of Stonewall fought for their “kids”, the generation of young LGBT kids coming behind them.  And, behind them.  I’m so glad they did.  See, I’m part of the generation they were fighting for.

I remember Stonewall being in the news.  I was 12.  I knew, instinctively, that what was going on in the newspaper (life before the Internet was vastly different!) was good.  By that time in my life, I was fully aware that I was a gay teen and had already had my first boyfriend.  Seeing them lay their lives on the line against an establishment that hated them touched me in an indescribable place.  I knew.

The war we’re fighting today is for the liberty, justice, and equality for our LGBT youth of today.  We’re fighting for their freedom to live happily without a government or religious body that sanctions their being attacked, both emotionally and physically.  We’re fighting for their freedom to marry the one they love, just as their straight counterparts will do.  We’re fighting for equality, for ourselves as well as for them.

And, we’re passing the torch.

Because of the Internet, there’s a “right-now-ness” that we didn’t have in generations gone by.  We can, and do, connect with people all around this massive globe at the click of the “send” button.  And, as a result, there’s a movement going on right now that is going to change the world as we know it.  A paradigm shift.  Yes, we the children of Stonewall are paving the way.  However, the torch is also being passed to some very strong, very dedicated young leaders.  And, they need to be recognized for the work they’re doing:

  • Christi O’Connor contacted me about a month ago about the Monster March Against Bullying.  The goal is for at least 10,000 LGBT teens to march to the step of San Francisco’s City Hall in an effort to compel their leaders that “It HAS TO Get Better”.  The Rodemeyers will be there.  Jonah Mowry and his family will be there.  That’s powerful stuff.  And, all of this was organized by TEENS!!  On her wall, Christi posted this:

“Hi Everyone.The good news is we have more wonderful content, new partners and teens’ videos we hadn’t anticipated this week. The down news is it has delayed our launch of our www.themonstermarch.com site until MONDAY. We’ll remind everyone to go to it Monday. So sorry for the delay. Big announcements coming on the site!”

The official website goes up on Monday.  Looking forward to checking that out.  Looking forward even more to October and their Monster March!!

  • While not at teen, at 23, Mark Blane is still young enough to be considered part of the youth movement.  This very talented director/playwright/activist is putting his best effort into making a difference.  On June 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, the play, which Mark wrote and directed, “The Rock and The Ripe” will go into production in Chicago.  The play is about “the bullied and bruised Gay Youth of America”.  There’s also a book by the same title.  But, most importantly, Mark has a fundraiser page in place in an attempt to take this provocative and important play national.  This very compelling video makes you understand what’s at stake.
  • And, then there’s 18-year-old Brett Simpson.  I had seen this video response floating around for a while but, quite frankly, didn’t watch it because I’d grown weary of the “flash-card messages”.  Eventually, of course, I gave in and watched it. (it kept popping up here and there, so I figured there had to be something to it.  I was right.)  Watching that video changed my life.  Here was this handsome 18-year-old who, himself, had been badly bullied!, reaching out to other teens who were in crisis!  He opened his life to the world of LGBT teens, giving almost all of his personal information, and told them “I’m always here for you”.  That, alone, made my eyes water.  Refusing to be “the victim”, Brett instead stood strong and reached out.  And, the teens have been responding!!!  As an example, this message was just posted to his wall:  Zachary Smith: “Brett, this is amazing. I know you can do great things for the future of this country. It would be wonderful to meet you someday. Also, make sure you save this somewhere, because coming from someone who wrote something similar about a long battle with learning disabilities, personal written pieces such as this one are very appealing to higher learning institutions, if that’s what you plan on doing in the future.”  He has quite a following in his facebook community, Click “Like” if You Support the LGBT Questioning Community.  I’ve been so impressed with the work Brett’s doing, I made him an administrator on my facebook blog page.  And, he’s done great there, as well.

  • As a testimony to the impact Brett is having on the young, up-and-coming LGBT teens, this video was made by a 14-year-old LGBT youth named John.  The video is stunning, to say the least.  And, to think that a 14-year-old produced it just warms the heart.  The message is clear and, coming from someone who is in the age group most affected by the bullying against LGBT teens in this country, and around the world!, it’s extremely powerful.  If the readers of this blog post click no other link herein, do check out this video.

Obviously, there are more teens around who are doing some great things, like Daria, Amber, and Alexis in Indiana who have their own anti-bullying page.  And, they’re only in middle school!!!  I could probably dedicate an entire week, at least!, recognizing the efforts being undertaken by our youth, gay and straight alike, as they take matters into their own hands in attempt to make their world a better place.  This is just a few of them.

The world truly is changing, right before our eyes.  And, it’s changing for the better.  Most importantly, the youth-led movement is really getting traction and making a difference.  It makes us older warriors feel good to know that the torch is being passed to such capable hands.

The Gay Rights Movement

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Despite the constant bombardment of doom and gloom, bullying, bullycides, and teen suicides, we are truly living in exciting times as members of the LGBT community.  As it was with the Civil Rights battle of the 60s, it’s a hard-fought battle.  However, we’re gaining momentum.  We’re winning legal battles from shore-to-shore, small and large alike.  And, slowly and perhaps reluctantly, we’re gaining acceptance.  That news is greatest for the younger members of the LGBT community.  Collectively, we’re paving the way for a much brighter future for today’s LBGT youth.  That’s huge!!

This video showed up on my facebook wall today.  In my humble opinion, it’s a must-see video for every person, gay or straight.  It shows where we’ve come from.  It moved me to tears.

See, as an older black man, and having spent my childhood years in the South, I clearly remember the days of fierce segregation.  I remember the “whites only” and “coloreds only” bathrooms and doctor’s offices.  I CLEARLY, and I mean vividly, remember the middle-aged white man who tried his damnedest to put a 12″ blade through my 7-year-old back simply because I was a little nigger boy.  I can describe his car in detail.  I remember the struggles, the fight for equality.  I remember clearly the day Dr. King was assassinated.  And, I remember the destructive aftermath.  But, the generations ahead of my own continued to fight and fight hard for a world that would accept me in spite of my skin tone.  Eventually, and gradually, things changed.  They’re still changing.  Today, the playing field is a lot more even.  Don’t mistake my words.  Racism still lives and breathes today.  To be sure, it will never completely go away.  At least not in my lifetime.  But, it’s gotten better, much better!, for people of color.

As an older gay man, I can remember the day when holding your lover’s hand in public could get you arrested.  In some places, it could get you killed.  I remember my 5th grade teacher “outing” me and my boyfriend and the negative reaction it received.  I remember Anita Bryant.  I remember being a young boy when Stonewall was in the news but knowing instinctively that this was something significant.  Oddly to me at the time, I felt a sense of pride in what was going on, and I secretly followed it as much as I could.  I remember the reports of how homos were deviants or worse!  Fast forward to today.  Same fight.  Same struggles for acceptance and equality.  And, they’re being fought against the same establishment. And, as with the Civil Rights struggle of the 60s, we’re slowly but steadily making gains.  We’re winning battles of equality, large and small, all over the world.  And, somewhere in the world, there’s that young boy who, like me and Stonewall, is watching this unfold and instinctively knowing that this fight is for him.  And, he’s stronger for it.

Written by Ron Kemp

January 19, 2012 at 4:46 am

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