Bil Browning

When baby steps turn to strides

Filed By Bil Browning | September 19, 2007 1:27 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Bill Richardson, gay rights, indiana, indianapolis, LGBT community, LGBT history, Patricia Nell Warren, progress

I wanted to blog about something that's been rumbling around in my head lately to just get it out there... I keep watching in amazement at how far the LGBT movement has progressed in recent years. A few examples have really stuck out to me that I wanted to share.

smalllogo.jpgFirst on the national scene, the Bilerico Project made a bit of LGBT history yesterday when New Mexico Governor and presidential hopeful Bill Richardson sent us a guest blog. As far as I know, this is the only time that a presidential candidate has ever submitted something to an LGBT website in an attempt to talk directly to the readers about their positions on our issues. Queerty had an open letter from Mike Gravel, but Governor Richardson's piece was written specifically for us. That's ground breaking!

It wasn't that long ago that gay rights was a taboo subject for politicians everywhere. I've mentioned on here before that I came out in high school and had to drive two counties over to find any books that even mentioned homosexuality - there weren't any in my local library! After I went to college I read my first novels with gay characters; contributors Patricia Nell Warren's novel The Front Runner was the first. (And even that sympathetic main character dies in the end!) I remember doing activist work in Evansville while I was at college and how difficult it was to find anyone willing to even stand up and be counted as part of our community outside the gay bars.

So as I look around me I can see the sea-change that's happening before my eyes. At last night's Indiana Fairness Network meeting a Republican Indianapolis City-County Council candidate came to speak to the group (a Democrat was supposed to attend, but was a no-call, no-show). At last month's meeting three current Councilors attended. And for next month's meeting we're already scheduling candidates who want to talk to us - from both sides of the aisle. Hell, a Republican Councilor is advertising on TBP!

Now I realize that this may not be huge news to some of our compatriots in the "blue states" but this is Indiana - right smack dab in the heart of this giant country of ours. Our political gains haven't been huge by any means. We have no hate crimes law. We don't protect all of our citizens from discrimination. We can't get married, civil union-ed or even domestic partnered.

But we've started the conversation. And now folks are listening - including those that make decisions for our lives. While others may consider this baby steps, here in Indiana we're making strides.

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