There are many reasons I support (and have supported for thirty years) our gay, Lesbian, transgendered and bisexual brothers and sisters; I support them because they are us, and because, as our fellow human beings, they are every bit as entitled to basic human rights (including the right to marry and adopt) as are any of the rest of us. But I am also grateful to the extraordinary GLTB community because, despite their exclusion and all the prejudice they have suffered, they have always been so amazingly inclusive.
And there is no better progressive value than that.
I was in college in the 1970s. I went to a progressive college in Vermont, and even in the 1970s (less than half a decade after Stonewall), there was already a recognized gay and Lesbian group on campus. It was not as it is now at my little college; my gay and Lesbian friends did not have the entire support of my college ~ they were often ignored. (And, sad to say, there were ugly comments made in various quarters; though I will add, because times were different then, perhaps fewer than some of the ugly comments I’ve unfortunately seen in this site this past week.)
In any event, I had several friends who were involved with the group and I could not have had nicer or more supportive friends. I worked on the College’s women’s magazine with many Lesbians, and they could have cared less that I was straight. We worked together to educate the community about women’s issues and shared so much frank talk and energy while putting together the magazine. When I was reticent, they pushed me to go farther. I appreciated that.
And I had a whole bunch of gay male friends, who included me in their fun parties (held at the homes of our gay professors), where there was so much conviviality and dancing -- and no judgment whatsoever. No comparison to frat parties, which I avoided like the plague.
One of my best college friends, who was gay, became an Episcopal priest. How amazing it was when I showed up at my great-aunt’s mother’s funeral several years later and discovered that he would be preaching. And how wonderful it was for both of us, at the celebration of this lovely lady’s life afterwards, when we got to reconnect.
When I lived in Florida, I met, through work, a delightful woman with whom I became friends. She is a Lesbian and an amazing writer. She invited me to join her regular Friday night cocktails party with a bunch of her women friends, some of whom were Lesbian, some of whom were straight. The conversation was lively, the friendship warm. I met a lot of women there who are still friends, and I was grateful to be included.
My Florida roommate was gay. We shared a beach house for two years. I have written about him here, before, because we were very close friends and because he died, in September 2006, from AIDS, and because I probably will never get over his death. I have never had so much fun with anyone in my life as I did with him. For my "present" when I passed the Florida Bar, he took me, with his lover, to South Beach for the weekend. They included me, an older straight chick, in their weekend shenanigans, danced with me at riotous gay bars, laughed with me. I’m sure they would have preferred to be there by themselves, but that’s the point: I was a friend and it was my weekend and I was invited along.
In my current life, I have a bridge group that I treasure. My favorite bridge partner is the partner of 28 years of another friend, who is perhaps the best bridge player I’ve ever known. The only person with whom the latter does not mess with is my Mom, who partners with him for bridge. She adores him, as do I; I am not nearly a good enough player to partner with him in our bridge games.
A couple of years ago, we had a game scheduled at the home of my friend and his partner. It was on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and he and his partner not only had marched that day in support of women’s rights, but, in fact, had played host to a number of people who had come from as far away as Zanzibar to participate. They had perhaps 20 people staying at their home that weekend -- including a lot of very tall Norwegians -- not that any of this was going to interrupt our scheduled bridge match.
So there I was, in a beautiful house, playing bridge with two dear friends and my Mom, surrounded by the constant traffic of Norwegians and others, coming and going from various events in support of Roe v. Wade. An issue that means so much to me.
As does the issue of full civil rights for our GLTB brothers and sisters. If they can be so inclusive of us, why can’t we so inclusive of them?
I have been shocked, appalled and horrified by some of the homophobic hateful comments (or dismissiveness, which is just as troubling) on this site this past week. Just shocked and appalled and horrified.
Bigots have no place in our progressive community.
Bigotry: stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own.
This goes for bigotry in any form.
Tonight, I celebrate and thank our GLTB brothers and sisters for always welcoming me -- and and any of us who are straight -- in. And I only hope and pray that we will stand together to do the same for them.