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Pride and Prejudice
We will hold hands and kiss our legal husbands
and wives while walking through the booths of our
community newspapers, bars, clubs, gay friendly
establishments, gay businesses, civic associations, gay
organizations, even the Log Cabin Republicans, all
proudly flying the rainbow flag, basking in the Florida
Between a beer and a hot dog, a bag full of trinkets
and a raffle, we will pat each others on the back and
say: "Yes, there is nothing wrong with being fabulous."
If cigarette companies were allowed to promote
their 'fags' Virginia Slim would have a great booth
emblazoned with their slogan from the 70's, "You
Have Come a Long Way, Baby." Even though our city
inexplicably did not make, yet again, "The Advocate's
Top 15 Gayest Cities in America," all things considered,
we are fortunate to live in Greater Fort Lauderdale/
Yep, we are fabulous... but immensely jaded,
bordering on uncaring.
While we show off our Balenciaga belts we never
think about how the other half still lives in the Bible Belt.
In the Hinterlands and the Deep South, LGBT people of
all ages, especially teenagers, are living a nightmare of
fear and depression. Important protective factors such
as family love, community support and safe schools are
completely missing. Growing up is scary when there is
nobody to relate to. Thus many contemplate suicide, as
the only way out of pain.
They are caught in a time warp of religious intolerance,
alienation and disconnect, open discrimination and
bigotry. They are made to believe that hell is waiting for
all gays, that we deserve AIDS, that we are not fit to act
as parents or even be upstanding productive citizens.
Those repressed gays and lesbians, far removed
from South Florida, and from the Top 15 Gayest Cities
in America, are living without foreseeable hope. With
time they become captive slaves of their own self hate
and low self-esteem. They are so used to disguising
themselves to others that in the end they become
disguised to themselves.
On the other hand, out and proud gays are too
complacent. We should be up in arms demanding
comprehensive laws to protect all sections of society-
with no exceptions. Our agenda should be setting
the pace of social change by demanding a ban on all
forms of discrimination, with true and enforced crack
downs on hate crimes. Prevention programs for sexual
minorities should be in place to tackle issues of stigma,
labeling, bullying, plus safe and effective referrals.
Many important battles have been won but the
cultural war is far from over. Arkansas banned local
governments from expanding anti-discrimination
protections to include sexual orientation and gender
identity, a move criticized even by retail giant Walmart
who said the prohibition damaged the state's image.
In Georgia, a bill called the 'Religious Freedom' Bill
would forbid the state government from infringing on
a person's religious beliefs unless the government can
prove it has a compelling interest. Some North Carolina
lawmakers are convinced that court officials should be
exempt from having to perform same-sex weddings or
issue marriage licenses to gays because of the workers'
religious beliefs. The utter stupidity of all these
Religious Protection Bills, popping up nationwide,
is that they would begin to unravel decades of civil
rights achievements in this nation and ultimately
they would begin to unravel protections for religious
people themselves. The mumbo jumbo gets even more
preposterous when one listens to Scott Lively, the anti-
gay pastor who has been charged with committing
crimes against humanity for his involvement with the
passage of Uganda's "kill the gays" law. He is warning
divine retribution not seen since the days of the Old
Testament if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of
same-sex marriage this term. Citing scriptural "blood
moons," set to take place in 2015, Lively said that the
"official endorsement of 'gay marriage' by the only
nation in the history of the world (other than ancient
Israel) to be established on a Biblical foundation
(blatantly untrue), is an act of defiance against God not
seen since Noah's Flood."
While there are many progressive Christians around
the world with a true sense of compassion and moral
integrity, the oppressive Bible thumpers of mid America
are the product of outdated, suffocating, traditional
Christian values that prefer ritual to reflection,
obedience to individual discernment, meaningless
confessions to genuine atonement.
In its highest form, Christianity is a test of one's
mettle, a challenge to live in the image of Jesus, the
incarnation of all virtues. In its lowest form, it's a
spiritual Walmart, where absolution comes cheap and
the swallowing of a wafer, a Sunday service, or a candle
and a prayer are all it takes to even things out with God.
I'm not saying you should not enjoy the upcoming
PrideFest, by all means dance your socks off, get
moderately smashed, smoke a joint, come by SFGN's
booth and win a prize, have fun, be yourself, be
'absolutely fabulous' but stop and think for a moment,
get involved, make a difference in someone's life, and, if
you are so inclined, say a little prayer for Pat Robertson,
right wing Republicans, and all the other hate mongers.
As the Dalai Lama said, when asked why he prayed for
the Chinese invaders of Tibet, whose atrocities against
his people can never be forgotten, "Oh, we must pray
for them. Because they are the ones who need prayer
most of all."
As we get ready to set up our tents for another
PrideFest we should take a moment to be
grateful for how far we have come. Then we
can start proudly "strutting our stuff ": tattoos and
earrings, biceps and pecs, drag and leather, tight
shorts and cowboy boots, 'gaybies' in strollers,
pets on leashes, colorful wife beater tank tops, the
soundtrack courtesy of Lady Gaga.
column off the wall
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