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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

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NY Marriage Equality: How Did We Get There? A Photo Retrospective

26 Jun

I moved from New York to Washington DC three weeks ago to be with my boyfriend. It’s hard not to still consider New York City home after nearly 13 years living there, but after last night – my struggle to move on became even more difficult. For the past several years, I’ve proudly fought alongside some incredible activists, lobbyists, politicians and allies in the struggle for equality. And last night in New York, we finally won.

I thought of writing a diatribe about how much we have to learn from this victory – how for one of the first times in our movement’s history, we worked together to accomplish something. I could be heavy-handed and speak endlessly at the incredible work done by this partnership of several organizations all working towards the same thing. I could even go so far as to reflect on the fact that even though we have this beautiful victory at long last, that there are still 1,138 rights not afforded to legally married gay and lesbian couples and that we MUST focus on equality on the federal level. But instead, I decided to post some photos.

For the past 3+ years, I’ve discovered a love for photography and in my own way, I’ve been documenting some of the movement from my perspective as a New Yorker. So please enjoy these photos which reflect some of my favorite moments and people involved in the recent part of our struggle for equality. Please note: there are photos here from swanky cocktail parties, from pride marches, from rallies, protests, political speeches, phone banks and even a living room or two. New York Marriage Equality happened because of ALL of it, not some.

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All photos copyright Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com

PHOTOS: Chelsea Clinton, Kristen Bell, Andy Cohen, Ken Mehlman, David Mixner, Mark Consuelos and More Come Out for Friendfactor

4 May

As we’ve talked about here before, there’s a new organization that has decided to make some new strides in a whole new direction for equality. Friendfactor is dedicated to winning our equality by utilizing our strong relationships with our straight allies.

Tonight, I was proud to take part in their launch event at Lavo on East 58th Street. Their guests of honor were the true image of working together. With a sold-out crowd and dozens of New Yorkers who have long fought the war for equality, Friendfactor’s founder Brian Elliott introduced some new campaigns hoping to help win marriage equality in New York in the next six weeks. Recently outed Gay Republican Ken Mahlman was in attendance as well as recently married Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the man who signed both the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell into law.

Other guests included Andy Cohen, Kristen Bell, Mark Consuelos, Miss New York Claire Buffie and Civil Rights legend, David Mixner. Please enjoy some photos from this evening and visit Friendfactor.org to find out what you can do to help win our equality! To order photos or to see more, visit Equality Photography. All photos copyright: Jamie McGonnigal.