Tag Archives: Heroes

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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Hege and Toril: Why We Write

2 Aug

Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen. Photo: Maija Tammi

Yesterday, we posted a story of the heroic Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen, a married lesbian couple who rescued 40 teenagers after the Norway massacre last week. The story has happily drawn quite a bit of attention and I want to take a minute to clarify things following unprecedented traffic and comments on our blog, and to follow up on our first blog post from close to a year ago, Why Write?

Firstly, there was a large debate about how many people were killed. Reports on the internet range from somewhere in the 70’s to somewhere in the 90’s. As some commenters wrote, it doesn’t matter if there was one person killed or 200, the purpose of my post was to bring attention to this married lesbian couple who saved 40 kids from possible death. Facts matter, I agree – but in the new media age, facts are hard to come by – especially when there are so many conflicting reports. I have not called the Norwegian hospitals to find out precise counts, primarily because I do not speak the language and the long distance charges would be unbearable. Does this make this couple’s story any less compelling? No.

Secondly, this is a story I’ve seen around the internet for several days now – our blog cannot claim credit for breaking this news in any way – what we did do was ask the question about why it wasn’t getting covered by the mainstream media. Several people have asked why it’s necessary to report that it was a married lesbian couple that committed this heroic deed. You never hear “A straight firefighter saved a family from a burning building.” I agree. You don’t hear in the press when someone is straight and does something good. You also don’t hear when someone is straight and does something bad. But when someone who is LGBT does something bad, you can BET that their sexual orientation or gender identity is one of the first important facts of the story.

We live in an era when unprecedented numbers of kids are taking their own lives because of the simple fact that they feel alone and trapped. For generation, at least in the US, we have raised children in a world where it is okay to discriminate against LGBT people. We have told kids as they grow up that there is nothing worse than being gay, that if you are gay, you will have no friends, no family and you will probably die of AIDS. When a child who is gay, grows up with society instilling in him the belief that being gay is a fate worse than death, you incinerate their hope.

In California, the legislature recently passed a law that would require the inclusion of LGBT history in their textbooks and curricula. The amount of pushback and hatred this new law has already received is astounding and could very well see it repealed soon – all because people are afraid that by hearing that someone gay did something great, children might make the choice to be gay – which is of course completely contrary to science. The state of Tennessee is close to passing a piece of legislation that has been called the “Don’t say gay” law. Teachers in that state are not allowed to even mention homosexuality exists – because if you don’t say it, maybe it will disappear. This is the United States our kids are growing up in.

This is a story of not only a lesbian couple that did a heroic thing, but a married lesbian couple – something that is still illegal across this country. Even in the handful of places an American can get married in this country, that marriage is not recognized by the Federal government. That leaves heterosexual couples with more than 1,100 rights which lesbian and gay couples don’t have.

Norway is a world leader when it comes to protecting LGBT people. It was the first country to enact anti-discrimination laws. They decriminalized homosexuality a full 20 years before the US (the land of the free and the home of the brave) did. They’ve had nationally-recognized civil partnerships since 1993 and marriage equality became legal in January of 2009. So it may not be a big deal in Norway that this was a married lesbian couple, but it should be a big deal here.

Thirdly – why has this story been ignored by the mainstream media? I don’t know. That’s why I posted the article. Is it because the couple is lesbian? Perhaps. Is it because the news cycle in the US is being taken-up by the imaginary “debt-ceiling” debate? Perhaps. The only thing we know for sure is that this is a story that needs to be told.

And finally, please accept our personal thanks for sharing this story on behalf of kids growing up thinking they won’t amount to anything. Thank you for sharing this story and letting young people know that no matter who they are and no matter who they love, they too can be heroes.

Helping Our Brothers And Sisters

9 Feb

Dr. Frank Kameny is one of the most significant figures in the American equality movement.

Dr. Kameny is a World War II veteren who, after being dismissed in 1957 from the Army Map Service, fought his unfair treatment all the way to the Supreme Court in 1961. Though he lost, Frank made history for filing the first civil rights case based on Sexual Orientation.

This marked the beginning of a decades-long career fighting for LGBT equality. Frank Kameny went from fighting Nazis to fighting the U.S. and DC government. He is widely credited as a pioneer of a new and aggressive movement for equal treatment of gay and lesbians, paving the way for the eventual explosion of post-stonewall activism. As a founding member of the Mattachine Society of Washington, DC, Frank helped organize the first ever White House protest and together with the Mattachine Society of New York and the Daughters of Billitis expanded the picket line into what would later became the Annual Reminder.

Over his nearly four decades of fighting the establishment on our behalf, he succeeded in repealing DC anti-sodomy laws, continuously pushed for federal workplace protections, and was instrumental in removing homophobia and junk-science from the American Psychiatric Association and sexual orientation from its manual of mental disorders.

And now Frank needs OUR help. After all he has done for us we have a unique opportunity to show our love, support, and appreciation for this true American hero.

Helping Our Brothers and Sisters (HOBS)  is an all-volunteer micro-charity that helps marginalized GLBT individuals in the Washington D.C. area meet short-term needs. HOBS‘ focus is on those who do not fit the criteria for help from other organizations or agencies.

For the past year HOBS has been helping Frank meet his basic needs. Like so many who have lost their jobs because of workplace discrimination his needs aren’t being met with his slim pension.

For the price of a nice cocktail you can make a small donation to HOBS and toast a truly remarkable man.

We named a street after him. Now we have a chance to truly honor this great man and show him how much we appreciate his life and work:

Buy Frank A Drink