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Because Matthew Shepard Can't, & I Can - THAT'S why. 
4th-Nov-2009 10:04 pm
Today marks one year ago that I gathered with my family, friends, and fellow Obama campaign volunteers to watch the election results come in to campaign headquarters in celebration of all the things we have worked so hard for. Today I also woke to the news of the repeal in Maine that takes legal rights away from gay & lesbian citizens of that state. My friend and former boyfriend Tom is from Maine and lives there with the love of his life, Ray, with whom he has made a family for 15 years now. I called him this afternoon after hearing how distressed he was to offer some comfort and solace, and to encourage him to not be defined by this or to allow his love, his life, or his family to suffer one millisecond more of pain inflicted by these horrible people responsible for making this happen. Fortunately for us, love wins out and he and I both are fortunate not only that we have such a bounty of love in our own lives, but that we can celebrate it in each other because it matters.

There is a lot of responsibility that needs to be assumed and taken up. It's time once again to stop being complacent and start getting proactive, to start engaging one another and to call out those who mean us harm wherever they might be - loudly, without restraint, and without apology. ALL OF US have this responsibility, not just my GLBT brothers and sisters, but all of our straight friends and allies - if indeed you are our friends and allies. You can no longer stand idly by and watch as we suffer these indignations like it doesn't affect you, and if it doesn't affect you to watch those of us you call loved ones suffering the tyranny of second class citizenship, then we must force ourselves to question our loyalties to you. You cannot have it both ways because this is too important, and we can no longer afford to pretend that your silence isn't complacency. Speaking for myself, I would do that for each and every one of you because it is right and because it matters, and I cannot accept anything less than the same in return.

Regret is a terrible, numbing, cancerous thing. A few short decades ago hundreds of thousands of white people in this country stood by and said nothing when black people were denied civil rights, when they were tortured and killed, and they maintained an uncomfortable silence about how wrong this was, how evil discrimination is, all of the things they knew were true yet kept to themselves and those like them for fear of becoming vilified. That's a terrible thing living in that kind of fear, but it is also a wholly unnecessary thing and let's be honest - it's WRONG. It is WRONG to see an act of injustice and say nothing. It is WRONG to hear someone preach hateful speech about people you love and respect and say nothing. It is WRONG to maintain the status quo for the sake of comfort when it creates damage in the homes and lives of those you claim to love and respect. Moreover, it is WRONG to be silent amongst those perpetuating a wrong and not call out what you know is RIGHT. Silence is acceptance, and your silence is not good enough anymore. It never has been.

I am tired as I write this. I am life-tired. With everything that is going on in my personal life, I cannot help but be exhausted. I've been this tired before and I will be this tired again, but damnit - that's NO excuse to sit on my ass and not do any and every thing I can to say and do something that matters. That's all it takes, really - the courage to look fear in the eye and the drive to look into the faces of those who may never agree with you, who may very well even turn on you, even the will to push exhaustion aside long enough to make a declaration.

Because it matters. Because as my beautiful friend Greg recently learned and shared with me, it is a fact that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teenagers are more likely to complete a suicide attempt than their heterosexual contemporaries - and one of them could be YOUR child. Because approximately one in four underage kids who come out to their parents are kicked out of the house. Because an estimated 40+% of the homeless teenagers in NYC alone are GLBT and were kicked out of their homes and are made homeless by their god-fearing parents' indifference to love in favor of embracing religious hysteria. Because the average duration of life on the streets is one year after which it's death or prison. Shelters are run internally by gangs like crips, bloods. Sissy boys and butch girls are safer on the streets. Because there are homeless teenagers dying of HIV/AIDS as I type this that are beyond medicine and in support volunteers' homes so that they won't be forced to die alone. Greg knows this because he is volunteering his time for these kids, these children, the very same ones thrown into the trash by parents who are likely the chief constituent voting bloc that is responsible for the decision in Maine. Which, by the way, should never have been up for a vote in the first place.

That's what we're teaching our children, be they heterosexual or otherwise. That is what they are learning whether they are hearing it from the misguided voices harmonizing their collective bigotry or the deafening silence that results when such things are not being called out in opposition for the true evil they represent - and as I stated earlier, silence is acceptance.

So I'm challenging you all to share these words with as many people as you can. Repost word for word or cut and paste what you can personalize if you must, but you have an opportunity to throw a gauntlet down and step up and be a hero for me and people just like me, and we have never needed you to rise to this challenge more than we do now. Do it because it takes balls to do a courageous thing, no matter the cost. Do it because enough people have been beaten, tortured, and killed for simply being who they are and their voices and their hopes and dreams have been stolen from us all - and you can be their voices, hopes, and dreams so that their suffering is not in vain. Do it because nothing is faster than the speed it takes for compassion to die and it is the death of compassion that makes all of this necessary in the first place. Do it because Matthew Shepard can't and you can.
Or do it for the best reason possible - no reason at all - because you don't need a reason to do the right thing.

The choice to speak out in agreement is yours, I can only hope you will share this message with others. As many times as I've done this and seen one flame light a thousand torches to provide illumination for others to see, it isn't a choice for me - it is a necessity - a responsibility - and while your complacency is and will continue to be heartbreaking, I'm never giving up this fight until such a time that conversations in the future refer to this kind of discrimination against families like mine as a thing of the past. Do you understand what I'm saying? I will not be complacent, I will never give in to people telling me what is right and fair when they couldn't be more wrong, and I will no longer stand up to support those who will not do the same thing for me because they'd rather be cowardly and prefer the comfort they take for granted, something I refuse to do.

It is your turn to share this and spread these words so that others may do the same from your example. It's one small action, that is all I'm asking for right now. It is your turn to say something, what will YOU do?


<center><font size="+2"><b><a href="http://jesus-h-biscuit.livejournal.com/1215367.html">Because Matthew Shepard Can't, & I Can - THAT'S why.</b></font>

<img src="http://pics.livejournal.com/jesus_h_biscuit/pic/0050912t"> border="0"></a></center>

5th-Nov-2009 03:57 am (UTC)
Thank you for writing that, Brad.

I know of few people who display as much passion for social justice, and more importantly, who back it up with meaningful action.

I, too, am disapointed and angry about the vote in Maine.

BUT, we won a victory in getting the orginal bill passed, and a single battle is not the whole struggle.

All of us who are angry about this setback need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get right back in there, fighting twice as hard for the final victory.

Although I now live in Canada, and have become a Canadian citizen, and here equal marriage rights are part of the law of the land, I am by birth an American, and I am determined to see my homeland grow up and throw away the bigotry and hatred that has allowed this issue to fester.

So, I'm making contributions to politicians who are speaking up and doing the right thing, like Pennsylvania's Patrick Murphy, who is leading the fight in Congress to repeal the law underlying the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and volunteering what time I can to make phone calls and campaign for political leaders who are seriously contributing to making change happen.

Thanks, Brad, for posting this, and for the work you do to raise awareness and help people like me understand the issues, fight back with facts and logic, and take action to bring about meaningful progress.
5th-Nov-2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
Thank YOU for taking the time to read it!

It is a waste of time trying to deny civil rights once that door is opened. That is why I'm so insistent on these things.

Pass it on, repost or link back!
5th-Nov-2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
"Sitting idly by" is indeed the problem. I am glad you said this.

If the sum total of our involvement was sitting in our living rooms watching election returns, we are never going to get what we want. I don't know where we got the idea that inaction would produce any kind of results. It's laziness of the most dangerous kind.

Love this. Beautifully said.
5th-Nov-2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
Indeed - which is exactly why it is so important to help make this post go viral - it might reach all the right people with enough push behind it and that is how change is made.

5th-Nov-2009 01:56 pm (UTC)
I put this on **my** LJ and facebook. I may even print it for class today.
5th-Nov-2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
Again, thank you so much!
(Deleted comment)
5th-Nov-2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you - please share it!
5th-Nov-2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
Turning marriage into an instrument of 2nd-class citizenry in a nation like America does more damage to both than all the fudge-packing and carpet-munching in the world.
5th-Nov-2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
5th-Nov-2009 08:39 pm (UTC)
(Here via chaosdancer.)


ETA: Should that say "an estimated 40+% of the homeless teenagers in NYC..."? 40%+ of all teens seems high, even for NYC (where I live). (Discounting for normal experimentation, of course.)

ETA2: Your HTML has an extra close-bracket after the IMG URL that causes 'border="0">' to show if copied and pasted as is. Fixed it in my version, but thought you'd like to know.

Edited at 2009-11-05 09:28 pm (UTC)
5th-Nov-2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
Fixed, and thanks!
6th-Nov-2009 12:18 am (UTC)
Well said. I am also reminded that in two weeks from today is Transgender Day of Remembrance where people do candlelight marches to remember those killed during the past year for being who they are. I did not march last year due to a foot injury, I need to be there this year. One of my close friends lost his aunt due to this hatred, and could loose his own life over this. We as a human race need to stop this, somehow.
6th-Nov-2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
You may appreciate this: http://jesus-h-biscuit.livejournal.com/465487.html - I wrote it a few years ago.
6th-Nov-2009 12:19 am (UTC)
One more comment: human rights should never be put up for a popular vote. This result just sickens and saddens me.
6th-Nov-2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
6th-Nov-2009 07:35 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for posting this. As a bisexual Christian, it outrages me to see people continue to use things like religion as an excuse to teach ignorance or to be cruel to others. I try to teach by example, but I know now that I need to be much more vocal about this issue. After all, my faith teaches me that we should embrace our neighbor no matter who they are or where they come from.
6th-Nov-2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
Thanks for taking the time to read it!
6th-Nov-2009 08:44 am (UTC)
I'm a pansexual androgyne. That latter half is a little tenuous, since I'm still trying to sort myself out, but I digress.

This is why I'm afraid of my parents. I grew up in a house where "man-hating lesbian" and "faggot" were worse than "fuckface" and "dumb son of a bitch". I still feel sick and terrified whenever I hear them.

This is why I'm afraid of my work. I have heard coworkers say "he/she" in reference to someone, within earshot of me, while I was bound and either just before or just after cutting my hair. I have to fight in order to get a gender-neutral workvest for myself. I shouldn't have to argue for these things.

This is why I'm afraid of church. I'm Catholic and afraid to go to Mass, much less Confession, for fear that I'll be ostracized or somehow found out and kicked out. I haven't received Holy Communion in months, possibly over a year.

I don't want to be afraid anymore. I don't want to be terrified to talk to guys. I'm already afraid to talk to girls. I don't want to be nervous about going to a doctor, or getting medical attention for anything. I've seen transmen in the hospital before, unable to advocate for themselves and being constantly misgendered. I've heard the horror stories of doctors who just do not even fucking care, or have a pretense of ethics.

My grandfather was in the Third Army in World War II. He stormed Normandy Beach, fought through the hedgerows, and was a POW five fucking times so his kids and grandkids would have the freedom to love whoever they please and be whoever they please. That is my absolute, firm belief.

Reposting to my journal. Thank you.
6th-Nov-2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
YOU are why I wrote this, YOU are why I do what I do.

Don't live in fear, sweetness - you don't have to.

Thank you for taking the time to read!
6th-Nov-2009 09:07 am (UTC)
Linking this post in my own joural because simply put, FUCK being silent
6th-Nov-2009 04:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you for getting it, for taking the time, and for reposting!
6th-Nov-2009 09:33 am (UTC)
I'm probably luckier than most in that I have parents I know accept me for who I am, that my parents are atheists and Democrats who believe in equal rights for everyone. But your post really made it clear to me that I need to be more vocal in my real life about myself. It's no secret to the people who know me online where I stand, but I realize now that I too often don't try to address these issues IRL. I'll be including a link to this in my journal.
6th-Nov-2009 04:05 pm (UTC)
We've walked similar paths - thanks for taking the time!
6th-Nov-2009 12:35 pm (UTC)
I'm a high school student in Ohio, in a city that has thankfully done a lot to promote gay rights, though my own principal refuses to acknowledge our GSA (that's another story!)

I printed this out to share with my group at our next meeting.
6th-Nov-2009 04:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, that is so awesome! Thanks so much, please give them all my best when you share this and remind them that THEY are the reason I do what I do!
6th-Nov-2009 03:00 pm (UTC)
I hesitate to call myself bisexual, since I often find myself questioning if that is the case. I am a girl who loves girls and appreciates certain boys. My parents have never spoken out against my sexuality. Instead, they seem to think that if they ignore it completely it'll go away. Which I don't mind. It could be much worse, as your entry pointed out. I want to thank you for writing this, thank you so much. After what happened just yesterday in my hometown of DC, I am even more sensitive to civil rights and hateful politics.
6th-Nov-2009 04:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you for taking the time to read it, love - it is appreciated!
7th-Nov-2009 06:41 am (UTC)
I'm here via rumination and am posting this in my own journal, but I thought I should leave a comment.

As an FTM actually living in Portland, Maine who has been with my wife, Sarah, for 6 years now, I can't thank you enough for writing this. I have watched her cry in pain over the cruelty and bigotry of people since the results, have tried to comfort her the best I can over it and say the time is coming - but it's people like you who are willing to stand up and say something like this that will really make those comforting words eventually become a reality.

I think that's the first time I've actually cried over something a stranger has written in a long time.

I'll probably e-mail this to a few people who don't have LJs as well. It's extraordinary. Really.
7th-Nov-2009 03:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, I really appreciate it!
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