Still Work to Do

At first glance it would seem that all things are getting much better for our friends in the LGBT Community.  There has been a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry has made it clear he would reinstitute this discriminatory practice if he’s elected.  There have been several additions to the list of jurisdictions that allow same sex marriage, and Michele Bachmann says she will get that progress reversed if she’s elected.  Many school systems nationwide are instituting anti-bullying policies to protect all young people, which Rick Santorum thinks is just a subversive way to promote homosexuality to our youth.

Yes things are looking up; recent polls indicate that 51 percent of Americans now believe that gays should be allowed to marry.  Of course, Ms. Bachmann says she believes that as well, as long as “the men marry women and the women marry men”.  So I suppose it’s about time that those groups with acronyms that have worked so hard to turn the tide, (HRC, GLAAD, PFLAG and others), rest on their laurels and sit back and relax!  Yep, a job well done by all!  Let’s all have a drink and then shut our doors!  To quote our previous President George W. Bush, “Mission Accomplished!”  Agreed?

I can’t speak for everyone, but from what I see going on around me, I still see the LGBT Community being tossed out there as pawns by the politicians from the socially conservative right.  I still see many more “United States” that ban same sex marriage than the barely double digit number that have decided that the 21st century has arrived, and that “free country” isn’t just lip service.  I don’t turn my head while yet other young people are tormented to the point of suicide.  Think about it, if it’s true that less than 10 percent of teenagers are gay, does it make sense that about 21 percent of teen suicides are committed by gay teens?  How can it remain true that those states that ban adoption by gay couples continue to have, (by far), the largest number of unplaced foster children? Although not all that common, common sense tells me it is no coincidence.

Are things better for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered individuals than they were a few years ago?  Of course they are.  Are there reasons for optimism?  Without a doubt there are; and I do remain optimistic.  But I hope I’m not alone when I say there are still some battles to be fought.  At times I wonder who really wants to fight though.  Often, when things get better, complacency takes over and everyone wants to celebrate.  (I’m sure if we had an aircraft carrier, we could have a huge celebration!)  Everyone wants their favorite organization to have galas and parties to toast successes.  No one appreciates those any more than I do, but it ain’t all fun and games people.  It costs money for those parties and that money cannot come from a budget set aside for programs such as support groups, hot lines, speaker’s bureaus, lobbying, literature and other educational materials.  It’s not an open pot of cash to spend as you will like say, Social Security or Medicare funding.

Some of us are more than willing to put in the time and effort to help.  We may even think its fun and maybe even rewarding to be active participants.  We even like the idea of the occasional party.  It can’t happen in a vacuum though.  Regardless of the acronym you support, they can’t do it alone.  I can only speak first hand for Metro DC PFLAG, but we’re in need of your support.  We’ve trimmed where we can trim, up to and including trying to go it without a paid Executive Director.  That may not be the end of the cut backs but at least all activities mentioned above are still in place thanks to fantastic volunteers to answer phones, prepare and send mail, and facilitate a dozen support groups for parents and their kids.

Thursday is an opportunity to show them that you think their efforts are worthwhile.  To make it even better, it’s a party!  It will celebrate the holidays, keeping families together and quite significantly the FIRST thirty (30) years of Metro DC PFLAG.  That’s right, the big 3 – 0.  There will be some glad handing and high fiving about past successes.  We want to hear some of your ideas as well.  I hope the real message that we receive is that there is a reason and a desire for the next thirty years as well.  You’ve all seen the invitation for this event at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams on 14th Street in NW Washington.  Yes, we’ll be looking to raise some funds, but we feel just as strongly about celebrating as you do.  There will be food and drinks, although no red wine is allowed in the store.  This will be our primary measuring stick to determine how important the work this organization does is worth.  The first thing you can do to show us is to RSVP at events@pflagdc.org .  After that, you just need to show up and celebrate with us!

Phil Hicks

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About MetroDC PFLAG

Our Mission:Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays promotes the equality and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons, their families and friends through: Support to cope with an adverse society Education to enlighten an ill-informed public Advocacy to end discrimination.
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