On the day of National protest against the passage of discriminatory measures in Florida, California, Arizona, and Arkansas, the very air was expectant at Fort Lauderdale's City Hall- and all over this country the message was that the birth of full equality for the lesbigaytrans community is overdue.
At the rally held in Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the collectors of America's promissory note of equality was extraordinary entertainer Wanda Sykes, who would participate not "in support of us", but as one of us-- proclaiming that the blatant discrimination against her new marriage to her Wife compelled her to have to speak out.
Imagine the measures meant to attack us are actually forcing some not to retreat deeper into closets, but to come out of them swinging.
After I finally came to accept that I was a same-gender loving womyn and after suffering from a lack of images of strong, healthy, same-gender loving womyn of Afrikan descent, I made a promise to myself. It was a promise that if I had anything to say about it, the next generation of little black tomboys would not suffer from a lack of images they could relate to- because if you don't see yourself, you're not quite sure you exist.
Well, it's 18 years later and I am proud to see the bravery of Wanda Sykes, because although she may not have made the same commitment, the impact on the next generation will be far-reaching. Because now there is another image that affirms not only are there proud, out, same-gender loving womyn of Afrikan decent, but that we are successful as well.
The proponents of these measures did not realize that not only will individuals like Sykes examine their political stance, but in doing so, they are helping us stand more united in a way that I have not seen in far too long. They are giving us back our Stonewall unity, our fight Anita Bryant unity, our million-strong 1993 march on Washington unity, returning us back to a time when we realize that we cannot get bogged down with the 'isms' within our community because the fight ahead must be fought as a unified effort.
Community Leader Phil Wilson once said
People can't love us if they don't know us.
It's when we exhibit bravery (as Sykes did) that we share with the world who we truly are, allowing the total us be loved.
What folk don't realize about those of us who have been out a while is that the conservatives have made us into a people with nothing to lose. We have already confronted the hate in our own families at the risk of losing them. We have already confronted challenging employers to judge us on our job performance and not our personal life. We have already confronted the look on a landlord's face when two adults of the same gender want to rent a one bedroom apartment. And conservatives think they can scare us? No! We have the stamina to run--and win--this race for full equality.
Like most of us, on November 4th I was baffled at how this country could confront discrimination in electing the first [truly] Afrikan-American President of the United States of America, while simultaneously writing discrimination into law.
However, after the rallies of November 15th and the show of strength from our community, I am reminded that it's not what they call us, it is what we answer to; and it was clear to me that we are marking these "certified letters of discrimination" from Florida, California, Arizona, and Arkansas return to sender. We refuse to answer to the separate and unequal terms they want to call us and our relationships.