I've been asked how it went yesterday, guest hosting Michelangelo Signorile's Sirius XM radio show yesterday.
My response is I'm angry this morning. I can hardly sit and type while the bees are buzzing in my chest. I was surprised to feel this emotion this morning. I'm filled with the feeling that you get when you wake up from a dream where you find out they're killing people secretly, and you're trying to tell people about it who are ignoring you, asking you want you want for breakfast, and so on.
Why am I angry, you ask? Why am I filled with a feeling that I must do something, anything and everything, this morning?
The reason is that, for four hours yesterday, I sat in a little glass room and talked about nothing but ENDA and politics. You try it and see how it makes you feel.
If it doesn't make you angry and scared, then you're probably not paying attention. More about how the show went, and why I'm feeling this way this morning after the jump.
First, let me say that the radio show went fine.
The producer, David Guggenheim, and Sean Bertollo, associate producer, went out of their way to make me feel at home, and were incredibly gracious. I was a little nervous at first, partly because there's a bunch of stuff to remember about taking breaks and announcing things and clicking buttons on a screen when talking to callers, but it got easier as time went along and I relaxed.
It was an honor and a privilege to host the show for Michelangelo Signorile, who has done so much for our community. It was interesting to sit in the host's very high seat (I'm tall and even I had trouble jumping up into it) and to hear the imaging -- which I learned yesterday is the insider's term for those little clips that come on before and after a break. I've heard these little imaging clips as a listener many times, but when I sat in Michelangelo's seat -- he who fought the battles of ACT UP and AIDS, and wrote Queer In America, a book I read early on in my transition that really called to me -- these clips called out to me very differently.
One of the clips is a voice that shouts with fiery emotion to "Stand up and fight!" That's what I remember most from the 4 hours of hosting.
Also yesterday, I had a telephone call with someone who is fighter for the community, and we talked about our feelings of being hurt by comments that people had made about us.
There were also some wonderful call-ins by listeners to the show yesterday, from various parts of the continent, some feeling encouraged, some feeling discouraged, and some unsure of where we are.
This morning, I read a comment on the blog about someone who is waiting for leadership.
And all of a sudden -- WHAM! -- I was so very angry.
Here we are on the cusp of ENDA -- the bill is being whipped this week, which will determine its fate in the House -- and yet I don't see an outpouring of efforts on ENDA. Oh, there are efforts, and yes I see those, but the feeling I get is lukewarm, half-hearted, no passion, and no enthusiasm.
Did Michelangelo wait for other people to do something about AIDS? Well, at first he did, as he said in an interview he did last week on a radio show in Texas. As he described it, he went to a meeting to talk about activism because some cute guys were going, and he wound up being fired up by the need to take action. He listened to that call, and he joined ACT UP and began his career as an activist.
So here I am this morning, thinking about all of the people in our community who don't have jobs, who are underemployed, who are hiding themselves at work, who are harassed and called faggot at work, who are fired because someone finds out they're gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender.
Then I think back to that conversation yesterday with a fellow activist about our hurt feelings, and I think -- there's no room for hurt feelings in this battle.
I reflect on the listeners who called in, and I think -- why are you taking this so calmly? You're feeling disempowered when we need you most!
I think about the comment on the blog this morning asking for leadership, and I think -- no one is leading us, no one is going to save us, you must save yourself.
People have been asking where is the Martin Luther King in the gay civil rights movement? I look back to my conversation with Rev. Irene Monroe yesterday on the show, who pointed out the many, many differences between the African-American civil rights movement and the gay civil rights movement. Not the least of these is that the African-American fight involved a homogeneous population, and our LGBT rights movement is a heterogenous group of different sexualities, genders, races, ethnicities, religions, and classes.
Why are we waiting for Martin Luther King? Why would we think that one person could embody all of the different parts of our community and lead us? It's you, and you, and you that must stand up in your own community. Joe Solmonese can't lead us, Rea Carey can't lead us, Mara Keisling can't lead us. We are the unleadable.
If any of you are looking around, and waiting for someone else to stand up -- that just means it's time for you to stand up.
And if you're thinking that you're not good enough, old enough, smart enough, connected enough, that just confirms that you're the right person to stand up, because you have the proper amount of humility and respect for the job.
The reason other people who are better, older, smarter, and more connected aren't standing up -- is because they're scared to lose all that.
It's you who have nothing to lose -- and everything to gain -- who are the right ones to stand up.
So stand up! Call some friends and have a brainstorming meeting about how to make something happen in your town. Get in touch with other, more established organizations, and tell them what you're doing and make them help you. Call them every day if necessary.
Start calling and emailing people to call your Representatives and Senators about ENDA.
Make posters and put them up on telephone poles, pool your money and put an ad on Facebook.
Talk to local college pride groups and unions and GSAs and have a day of action.
I don't know exactly what is right in your community, but do something, anything and everything.
Our community has no action leaders. No one is going to save us. Do you think anyone anointed me a leader?
No, in fact our leaders have mostly criticized me behind my back, told me I didn't know what I was doing, and ignored me as much as possible.
But I'm not in this for them, or for glory or money, so I ignore that and just keep smiling -- and moving forward to up the ante as much as possible. The reward for being good is goodness, and that reward is only meaningful to good people. Your reward for fighting hard for ENDA will be that you fought hard for ENDA. If you're very lucky, you may also get ENDA passed into the law of the land. If you're looking for other rewards, fuhgeddaboutit.
We have only ourselves, and you. Tell us what you have decided to do.
The world awaits you.