Take the blinders from your vision,
take the padding from your ears,
and confess you've heard me crying,
and admit you've seen my tears.
Hear the tempo so compelling,
hear the blood throb through my veins.
Yes, my drums are beating nightly,
and the rhythms never change.
Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free.
The poem in the introduction was written about the Civil Rights struggle. That generations long battle was a struggle not to gain any special rights, it was a fight to attain "equal rights".
Rights that white people take for granted. Rights they have long considered their birthright, and so they are. Yet it took a civil war, and another hundred years before those rights were legally enshrined for black people. Let us hope that the struggle is shorter, much shorter, and less bloody for other minorities.
There can be no doubt that homosexuality has existed since before recorded time; that it is simply part of the human condition, and that the relevant word there is "human". Man's inhumanity to man apparently knows no bounds, but his preparedness to visit that inhumanity on fellow citizens continues to be a stain on the character of the bigots and the ignorant.
There have been advances, of that there can be little doubt. Finally the military accepts that a soldier is a soldier by vocation and training, and not by sexuality. Testosterone is not an indicator of selflessness or courage; nor is prejudice, bigotry and intolerance an indicator of anything but the lack of a moral compass.
That change is coming, albeit more slowly than we might like, is evidenced by the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, by the adoption of Marriage Equality in States across the land, and by my daughter.
Let me tell you a bit about my daughter, in addition to the things I have revealed in previous articles. I beg some indulgence here, because she is my daughter, and I am a Dad, and we brag about our daughters.
She is fourteen years old, and an 8th Grader at school in Oklahoma. In the eight years she has been my daughter, she has grown from precocious child to mature young woman. Her Mom and I are very proud of her, but never prouder than the day she asked us if she might be allowed to attend the "Equality Club" at the local High School.
We wondered what that was, because the name of the club sounded all wrong. We are in Oklahoma, they don't do Equality Club in Oklahoma. They do Young bigots for Jeebus, and Kick a Gay, Win a Bushmaster, so what is this Equality Club you speak of?
Well it turns out that they do indeed have an Equality Club that meets weekly at the local high school. Broadly, it is there to support those students who are discovering their sexuality, and is run by an outside source ... a guy from Tulsa drives up. They are not allowed to meet in the 8th Grade Center because, according to the girl, the Principal is a bigot. Okay, that's not hard to believe since it was only two years ago that the Principal of the local Sixth Grade Center was overheard telling students that homosexuality was a sin. They do that here, and they believe they can get away with it ... and they can.
Now Mackenzie, for that is her name, is completely and utterly "boy mad". That is also normal for girls her age and I have grounded her until she is thirty, but it did make her Mom and I wonder why she wanted to attend the Equality Club.
She quietly explained that she thought it was unfair the way people spoke about, and treated LGBT students, and she just wanted to show them that not everyone was like that.
So every Monday she lends her support, and has fun. Even though they are not allowed to make anything with a rainbow on, and they have to keep the door open, and the school staff "Watch us like hawks". I am fairly confident that the school has a list of all the students who dare darken the door of the Equality Club, and equally sure that there are also those among the faculty who would use that against them.
I also know that Mackenzie is one of the best alto sax players in the State, at her age, and that Band is more powerful than any of those bigots, so she will be just fine. But even without that strength and advantage, even without the straights "A"s she always gets she will be fine.
She will be fine because she is fourteen, and straight, and she goes to the Equality Club just because she cannot bear to see people marginalised by hatred.
Did I tell you how proud I am of her?