Thursday, April 29, 2010

Harvey Milk, You, LGBT's and the 21st Century

"If a bullet should enter my brain, let it destroy every closet door".-- Harvey Milk, 1930-78

I have been involved in politics since my early teens. I've been an adviser to a presidential campaign and volunteered for another. I helped an unknown reach 3rd place (out of 9) in Tennessee's last governors race, spending only a few thousand dollars where the others spent millions. Throughout the years I have traveled thousands of miles and met thousands of people.

From my experience two things became very clear. One, that America as a nation and as a Constitutional Republic made up of 50 sovereign States has a great deal of problems along with a great many strengths. The second thing I learned is that the American people have one major flaw- their inability to uphold the very foundations of our country.

At the start of the Revolutionary War only 12% of the population supported the idea of a free America. Today, it's questionable if a majority feels we should all have the exact same rights. As civil rights movements go, the struggle for equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people (LGBT) has been comparatively peaceful. Harvey Milk, however, is one example of those who fought peacefully but died at the hands of an individual, and society, that couldn't bare the thought of gays being afforded the same nation as their straight counterparts.

Throughout history being a homosexual was considered to be a perfectly fine lifestyle, in fact, for most of world history there wasn't even a term for homosexual. In Greece and Rome if you were a good citizen you had male lovers, and even today several indigenous tribes (Papua New Guinea, etc.) engage in homosexual activities to become a "man" in their society. It has only been in the past few hundred years that being LGBT became not only taboo but an affront to God, human nature, and something to be legislated.

It's fairly easy to belong to social websites or hang around similar people and think that the majority of our American family is truly fine with gays and lesbians. We elect a black president and swear that it's Fox News and the Church alone keeping LGBT persons suppressed. Sadly, the truth is far more sinister. Yes, there are mainstream media and religious groups who are opposed to LGBT equal rights, but the real problem comes down to you. The individual who only pretends to be "enlightened" yet who's heart hides a secret. A secret that allows you to embrace hypocrisy, bigotry and support a society that turns its head away and allows thousands of LGBT youths to commit suicide each year.

The "homosexual agenda" is not about having more rights, nor to have special treatment. The only thing that we as a group want is equal rights; the same ones you have.

As a Christian gay man it hurts me to know that the reality is that so many people who claim to be decent and good actually have a heart of a sickeningly ignorant nature. As an American citizen it disgusts me to know how many have no real understanding or respect for our founding, our history of struggle, or of the promise of freedom that America is supposed to embody.

From time to time I find myself looking at the world through rose colored glasses and have my hopes falsely raised; thinking that perhaps all we have gone through might have brought us victory. That feeling never lasts for long.

It's hard for me to really understand how a society with a population that is always screaming about human rights violations overseas, that preaches equality, that demands the rule of law (i.g the Constitution's declaration of inherent unalienable human rights) can be consumed with such hate, hypocrisy and self-centeredness as a majority.

The only way for this to stop is for those who support justice, understands the need for all of our civil rights and who wishes a better country for the future to rise up. To take injustice by the throat and remove it from our fair land. The only way for LGBT people to have a decent life, to not have to deal with the problems of vast intolerance and overwhelming obstacles is for everyone to make their voices heard.

No one wants to go through the trials of "coming out", but the only way to help future generations from having to endure such pain is for those who have not stood out, who have not been truthful with themselves or those around them to come out of the closet and breathe new breath into your lives. Men and women like Harvey Milk took that bullet to their heads so that you and I could stand tall and live openly and freely. We have all endured some level of discrimination and it is being perpetrated not by the "rabid right-wing" but by our silent acquiescence and with the quiet consent of those around you. Speak up, be your true self, and help make people understand (through discussion and example) that ignorance and silence are just as much of a threat to our liberties as it is to theirs; that we should no longer live afraid or hidden.

There are two great walls left in America; the wall that keeps Native Americans locked in their reservations and the wall that keeps LGBT individuals locked in their closet of fear, anger, hurt and solitude.

We live in the 300th millennium of modern human existence and in the greatest nation the world has ever seen. The time is now, not tomorrow, that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

If society, if government would deny you the rights laid down at the beginning of creation then you must take them. Your life, your liberty and your happiness should not be held in the hands of government or strangers, it is in your hands. So go and make your voice heard not only for yourself but also for others in your country who have gone and those yet to come.

--Jacob Bogle
Revised Edition 11/27/12