John Aravosis posted Longtime gay activist Robin Tyler on marriage and the Dems with this intro:
Robin is an old friend, she co-founded StopDrLaura.com with me, and she and her wife Diane were the first gay (lesbian) couple married in LA county after marriage became legal in California last year (before it was banned).
I suspect she wrote me this email, below, in response to the news that the Democrats don’t plan on doing anything about repealing DOMA during this session of Congress (meaning, until at least January of 2011).
Here’s my re-format of Tyler’s thoughts:
No civil rights movement has ever said ‘give us less, and we will be satisfied.’No civil rights movement has ever won without the strength to keep fighting no matter what the loss or setback was at the time.
The LGBT community has survived
- mental institutions
- penal institutions
- science calling us sick
- religion calling us sinful
We have survived being thrown out of our homes, our schools, and rejected by everyone we knew.
But we found each other. And we loved each other. And we supported each other through AIDS, when no one gave a damn. And we refused to be victims.
We became survivors, and now, our resilience has made us tougher, stronger, smarter.
No, we will not back down from the losses around marriage equality, or any other civil right issue. We deserve it all, and we will not rest until we have it all. That is what a movement is.
We keep moving, forward. No retreat, not now, not ever.
Tyler encapsulates the historical credo of survivors. She speaks to the the legacy of queer folks for fierceness, resilience, and determination against all odds.
As integral and crucial as this approach is to the achievements of LGBTQ folks, we do our community a disservice if we assume that fiery determination is built-in, a queer birthright.
Queer fierceness didn’t come naturally for my partner Dale, who died by suicide in 2000. He was an animated, gifted guy, but waged a long battle with clinical depression.
After he died, I wanted to lay the blame for Dale’s death squarely at the feet of the pastors who had fired him from his long-standing part-time positions as a church musician. Those were crushing blows for him. As it turned out, the last firing was followed shortly by him taking steps to make quick, painless suicide available.
But the deeper truth was that I let Dale down, too. I assumed that, since Dale was starting his coming out journey, he was also gathering up the fierceness that would carry him through the many steps to come. As an accomplished 46-year-old, it didn’t really occur to me that the fierceness I saw in him might be more mask than muscle.
So, to Tyler’s thoughts, I’d add that the LGBT community has survived the suicide of so many of its loved ones. Just as the movement has included supporting each other through AIDS, it has brought fierce and resilient folks together with vulnerable folks who encounter seasons of despair. We have taken on the toughness necessary to persevere precisely because we’ve seen so many of our own in desperate need of compassion, nurture, and protection.
The march to equality calls each of us to be our best, fiercest, selves. It also calls all lesbian, transgender, bisexual, gay, and otherwise queer folks to “come as you are… fierceness is not a prerequisite.”