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We all have problems in our lives. We all have different lives. We come from different places, different experiences, different families and different places in time.
What I don’t understand is that we all don’t want something a little better than what we had.
I grew up in a town and a family that was white, mostly Republican and Christian, and had little tolerance for things that were not considered ‘’American.” Things like blacks and gays and Democrats. It wasn’t just that we didn’t discuss these things; it was like they just didn’t exist. And if they did exist it was simply to ruin all that was right and good about America.
When I was growing up, there wasn’t a single person in my family, in my church, in my town I felt I could talk to about these feelings I was having for girls. There were no computers, there were no support groups, there was nothing but the constant drumming of the Christian, Republican drum.
I was alone with no options but to do what was expected of me. I married a man, hid who I was, and tried to live up to the person my parents believed me to be. Of course it didn’t work, and it took me until I was 50 to have the courage to say to the image I saw in the mirror: “It’s OK that you’re gay.”
I won’t say it’s easier now than it was in the 1960s to come out because every gay, lesbian, transgendered person has their own battles to fight, and they must do it on their own terms, in their own time. The people who say: “Just come out” don’t understand that it’s not always just that simple. The “I’m here, I’m queer, deal with it” thing isn’t always the road that’s available to travel. Sometimes it’s the “I’m here, I’m queer, what now?” path that we find ourselves lost on.
I believe we have an obligation to future generations of gay kids who find themselves trapped between the path and the road. I don’t want any one of these kids to ever feel as alone as I did. I don’t want them to ever have to choose between pleasing their family and being who they are, and this is why I write about gay issues. To make people aware, to let people know they aren’t alone, to just make the world a little less scary. This is why we all must fight for what is right and good in the world.
Those of you who have never had to say: “I’m gay” will never know the angst or the courage that is involved in coming out. Those of you who do know have an obligation to make the path a little easier than it was for you for the next person who garners the courage to speak their truth.
I also believe we have an obligation to each other – to our community. It’s become obvious to me that not everyone shares my feelings as I’ve been getting emails from conservative, gay folks who are chastising me for believing that gay issues are the only thing that matter this election. How can I be so naïve as to believe that gay-marriage is more important than the economy and that abortion rights are more important than jobs? How can I be so arrogant as to believe that my life was more important than the lives of the poor and the old? Quite simply – how could I be so stupid?
I suppose on some level I was stupid because I felt that people knew I cared about all of the issues with my support of President Barack Obama. And quite honestly; for me it’s not about being a Republican or a Democrat. It’s about being a human being. It’s about what is fundamentally right and being aware of what is just wrong when it comes to human rights and human equality. The way I see it is this: If Mitt Romney doesn’t care about gays, lesbians or women, then he can’t possibly care about the poor and the hungry and the disenfranchised.
I don’t believe I’m being selfish or stupid to be voting for the man and the party that recognizes me as a human being. I don’t believe it’s selfish or stupid to want what is right and just in this world. I don’t believe it’s selfish or stupid to not want a young person to have to deal with the stupidity of bullying simply because of who they are.
I believe we have an obligation to leave the world a little better than it was while we were here. The fact that I’m living openly with my partner is most certainly proof that it does get better. However, there is work left to be done, battles left to be fought, and that is our responsibility, that is our legacy. I find that neither selfish nor stupid.
Barb Hamp Weicksel was born in 1952 in Pennsylvania and moved to California in the early 1980s, where she met her partner Susan. They've been together some 30 years and share the love of Susan's four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her blog, Barb's Gift of Gab," can be found HERE.)