In case you missed it: National Coming Out Day reached it’s 22 year on October 11, 2009. I was doing this whole blog filled with ‘fun gay facts’ that I’m sure most that got past title already know. Rep. Frank made me change my mind.
Rep. Barney Frank was unknown to me until this exchange with a woman on healthcare:
I squee every time I watch it.
This past weekend he made news again by speaking out against the Gay Rights March on Washington. He called it a “waste of time at best”. He then urged gay rights activist to do what all powerful organizations have been doing to get ahead…lobby. He suggests you call and write your represenatives and get your friends to do the same. This is hardly a radical message. The only part of it that really ruffles feathers were comments like: “The only thing they’re going to be putting pressure on is the grass.” He describes the march as more of an “emotional release.”
I don’t think he is necessarily wrong. I understand he upset march organizers because it’s their job. I believe marches help rally the spirits of a movement but in this day and age, are they really all that effective? Tea Baggers got more media attention than the Gay Rights marchers and quite frankly…those people aren’t playing with a full common sense deck.
And now for a personal story that ties in with this post:
I remember when Prop. 2 came about in 2004. I live in Michigan but I still held out hope that it wouldn’t pass. The only media that came out regarding it was for it. There was a commercial with a heterosexual couple getting married and sentimental music. The voice over pleaded with citizens to protect this union because “gay marriage” was out to destroy it. Gay Marriage was Victor Van Doom and Heterosexual Marriage (or ‘opposite marriage’) was the Fantastic Four. It wasn’t very publicized that people who were living together for years without a marriage contract would be affected as well. People barely talked about the fact that there was no need for an extra discrimination law. Also the fact that gay marriage or gays being able to be on their S.O.’s health insurance really has no consequences or effect on your life. None, unless you’re gay. I was young and I believed that people would see this.
I was wrong. I cried my eyes out when that Prop2 won. It is now, thanks to Rep. Frank, that I recall my inaction. I didn’t speak up against it when I had the chance. When I saw the poster for it in my church, I got mad but repressed it. When the topic came up at the dinner table, I didn’t bother to try argue. I stayed silent. I regret my inaction.
Am I equating my silence to a march? No, that would be ridiculous. I am saying this: We have to do more than march. My anger, my two conversations and my preaching to choir was nice but I could have done more. I should have done more. Signs are nice, emotional releases are fantastic. I don’t wish to belittle their efforts. However, perhaps a day of action is more appropriate. Maybe this day should have been spent coming out and doing what you should have been doing the other days of the year. Again, marches are nice but we have to ask the question: who is listening? I can almost guarantee you, the listeners are the same people who agreed with you before.
Frank was right. Were his words harsh? Yes. But they clearly came from a place of frustration. I mean, adding sexual orientation to hate crimes in a defense bill is a step that’s important but shaky at best. It makes sense that he would be a little angry. We’ve come some of the way but not nearly far enough in regards to equal rights for the LGBT community.
In closing, I am glaad Rep. Barney spoke out. (there’s a pun there…did you get it?)