Sheila S. Kennedy

Call Me a Worry-wort

Filed By Sheila S. Kennedy | March 30, 2007 5:31 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, The Movement
Tags: gay history, gay rights, Indiana, LGBT community, SJR-7

My first experience with gay rights activism in Indianapolis was in 1992. I had just become the Executive Director of the Indiana ACLU. There were wonderful, committed people working for the community, at the legislature and with the media, but I think anyone who was around then would concede that the community as a whole was far more disorganized, and its efforts far less sophisticated than it is today. It sometimes seemed to me, as an outsider, that more energy was going into internal backbiting and jockying for position within the community than was directed toward fighting the multitude of barriers to equal treatment.

Nearly fifteen years later, for a variety of reasons, the gay community has really matured politically. Furthermore, it is on the verge of a truly impressive accomplishment for Indiana--defeating (or at least postponing a vote on) SJR 7. Major Indiana companies, academic institutions, religious leaders and other "major players" have weighed in on the side of the "good guys." Something that was simply beyond the community's capacities back in 1992 has happened: a variety of gay and gay-friendly organizations, working together, have mounted a politically sophisticated campaign to get to this point. It hasn't been perfect--but it's been damn good.

So what worries me?

My husband has a saying--"Never let your ego get in the way of your objectives." Over the last couple of weeks, I've seen little signs--disparaging remarks about one or another GLBT organization, snide comments about this or that initiative or individual. Nothing too overt--but uncomfortably reminiscent of the "bad old days."

I hope I'm wrong. I hope I'm overreacting to a few offhand remarks I'm hearing, to a couple of posts to various blogs that include gratuitious personal remarks. But just in case, let's all take a deep breath and remind ourselves that the cause is more important than any individual's ego, and that the success that seems tantalizingly within our grasp is a result of good communication, ongoing co-ordination, hard work and good will.

Now is no time to let our egos get in the way of our objectives.

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Brava! This is definitely a time to put aside organizational differences in order to pursue a common goal that will benefit all of us.

Somewhere today -- unrelated to this debate -- I heard someone refer to "ambition without ego" as an unusual combination. Seems like a worthy aspiration in any case.

Well said Sheila. And I might add, that even though there are always going to be times when conflict arise, we can never loose sight of what it has taken for us to get to this point. How long it has taken us to learn to work together. We all may not agree 100% of the time, but we must never forget what it is we fight for and how important it is that we maintain the bonds that unify us. We risk not only loosing the marriage fight but also many of the advances we have already achieved.
As we have seen, we are a force to be reckoned with. Lets keep that momentum going.
One thing that I am particularly proud of, is the networking we have done with other organizations. We have spent the last 2 years building relationships with these people that we share a common ground with. Groups such as Planned Parenthood of Indiana made an enormous impact. Let us not forget to show up when they have another rally at the statehouse to promote ACCURATE SEX EDUCATION. This IS an important issue for them as well as us. Building relationships is a two way street. Lets us all remember what we can achieve when we band together. Thanks for listening.