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Out Voices: David Mixner

18 Aug

It’s not often that you get to meet your heroes, nevermind become their friend. This post will be the first in a series highlighting LGBT people who have worked to break down barriers between our community and the freedom we require.

I didn’t come to join the real fight for LGBT equality until later in my 20s and one of the first names I heard when I first started looking for the leaders of this movement was David Mixner.

Newsweek once called him the most powerful gay man in America, David has been a political strategist, activist, author, storyteller, meteorology expert – you name it. And if you’ve ever had the opportunity to hear him speak, you’d see why I and thousands of others call him a hero.

It was David who called for the recent National Equality March. And upon seeing this big bear of a man in a suit and shades speaking in front of the Capitol on that hot-as-blazes October afternoon, I felt like I was being handed a torch of sorts. What I didn’t know then was that David was very ill – his health had been compromised during one of many humanitarian trips to Africa and doctors still don’t really know what’s wrong. But he showed up to the march (very much against doctor’s orders) because as he puts it – “Ain’t nothin’ in the world that was gonna keep me from that march.”

A few months later, while accepting an award from the Point Foundation, David had this to say about the march and the state of the movement today:

“For those of you who weren’t at the march on Washington…It was the young who led us. It was 70% under 30 years of age. From students on campuses all over this planet, coming to Washington to demand equality now, insisting that nobody had any right to negotiate away their freedom away in the political backrooms. Insisting that they wanted a family, to be married, immigration protection, they didn’t want to pay the “gay tax.” They wanted full equality and they didn’t understand why we had to wait on someone’s political timeline.”

“We have to understand that organizations like GetEQUAL and other organizations run by our young people have a new way now. They have a new way and we have to be careful not to add burdens on their shoulders. Theyre not gonna do things the way I did. They’re not gonna do things the way some of you did. They’re not going to listen to counsels of patience and words that say “you have to understand why we can’t do this now.” Because they don’t understand. They don’t understand why they can’t be free people.”

“So I plead with you for an old timer who’s been doing this 50 years. Get out of their way. Get out of their way. Our young people…how many rooms have I been in for how many years saying “why aren’t are young doing anything?” Well, they are doing something now. Support them. Raise their bail money. Cheer them on. Tell them their right and tell them we love ‘em and we’re proud of them.”

While David has served and continues to serve our community as a leader, it is vitally important to him that the next generation takes it’s place in the fight for our equality. And it’s that true love for equality and the vital need he has for the next generation to be equal that makes me love him.

This week, David celebrates a birthday and while a lady would never reveal another lady’s age, we are very proud to wish this true American hero the very best in the coming days, weeks and years. Thank you, David for fighting for us and for breaking down so many of the barriers that allow us to be who we are today. Salut!

If you have not read David’s book, “Stranger Among Friends,” please click on the link and order your copy now.

David Mixner and Me

If a Married Lesbian Couple Saves 40 Teens from the Norway Massacre and No One Writes About it, Did it Really Happen?

1 Aug

Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen. Photo: Maija Tammi

By this point, most of you have heard about the tragedy in Norway a few weeks ago when a Christian Fundamentalist* murdered 77** people and injured another 96. The story has been well-covered by International media and the mainstream press here in the US.

What you probably have not heard about is the married lesbian couple who rescued 40 teenagers during and after the bloody event. Several blogs and gay and lesbian publications are now picking up the story, but the heavy hitters who usually kill for hero stories like this, have remained silent.

The Finnish capital city’s largest daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomatpublished this account (translated from Finnish):

Hege Dalen and her spouse, Toril Hansen were near Utöyan having dinner on the opposite shore across from the ill-fated campsite, when they began to hear gunfire and screaming on the island.

“We were eating. Then shooting and then the awful screaming. We saw how the young people ran in panic into the lake,” says Dale to HS in an interview.

The couple immediately took action and pushed the boat into Lake Tyrifjorden.

Dalen and Hansen drove the boat to the island, picked up from the water victims in shock in, the young and wounded, and transported them to the opposite shore to the mainland. Between runs they saw that the bullets had hit the right side of the boat.

Since there were so many and not all fit at once aboard, they returned to the island four times.

They were able to rescue 40 young people from the clutches of the killer.

“We did not sleep last night at all. Today, we have been together and talked about the events,” Dalen said.

Please share this story and make sure people know the heroism of Hege and Toril.

Check out our follow-up to this post here: Hege & Toril: Why We Write, which addresses many of your comments and questions about this article.

*The term “Christian Fundamentalist” has been disputed greatly in both the press and the comments section below this post. According to Norwegian police investigating the massacre, Anders Behrin Breivik was a “Christian Fundamentalist” as described by the New York Times and several Norwegian sources. There is a great post from CNN, which discusses at length, the use of the term being used for Breivik.

**Thank you to readers who have provided credible sources as to the actual number of deaths from this tragedy. We originally reported that 92 had been killed, but according to Norwegian sources, the total number is at 77, with many still in the hospital.

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