Florence Nightingale? Nah! Gertrude Stein? Reverend Troy Perry (MCC)? Brave man! Larry Kramer? Possible. Harvey Milk? Strong possibility. What about Constance McMillen? Sadie-Ryanne Baker a leading activist for transgender rights here in DC? Gay Penguins?
All of the above are strong answers to that question, but when I think about it, I have to say that my real heros are the people that are working everyday now for the movement. The students and twenty somethings that are putting in countless hours. And those people who spend time highlighting issues and standing up for what is right. And the straight allies that stand beside us in our fight for full federal equality.
I usually don't use names in this blog, but I think for this post I will make an exception. Some of my heroes are people like Jay Carmona and Samantha Ames, Ali Lozano and Ian Goldin. These guys are barely adults and they are mature well beyond their years. When I was their age I was trying to figure out how I could stay in the closet, they are planning events, screaming at the top of their lungs, and standing up for all of our rights. I am very new to the LGBT movement, but I know that we need people like these guys in order to secure the future of our movement.
There are people here in DC like Julia Mandes and Sean Carlson who put together this weekened's Big Commit event, and then I have friends like Mark Reed and his partner Dante Walkup. My friends Phil Attey and Phil Reese. And beautiful straight allies like Momma Jude Stevens and Will Phillips. And then national activists like (wait for it) Robin McGehee and Joe Solmonese... yes I did put them in the same sentence! These among so many others are people who are working every day in many different ways to make sure that we keep moving towards our ultimate goal and they are all my GLBT Heroes...
But if I had to narrow it down to one single person, I would have to say that my own personal LGBTQQI(LMNOP) Hero would be a close friend, dedicated activist, brilliant writer, and wonderful all around guy, David Mailloux. Yes, David I would say you are my hero and my inspiration, one of the first people that dragged me into this movement and an all around normal guy who just fights for what is right everyday. Many times we don't agree on the proper way to get things done, there are even videos of us screaming across the room at each other about DADT, but he keeps me moving forward. He inspires me, and he is a hero to many including myself!
Oh, and here is one of the reasons why David is such and inspiration... he helped me put the polish on this powerful speech that the Doctor and I delivered at the Big Commit this past weekend!
It is a great honor to be here and to be speaking to you all today.
We have fought a very public battle over the past year, but entering wedding contests is not the only thing we have done, nor is it the only thing we want to do.
Those contests have given us the opportunity to share our love with a more accepting society, but also to take on the social stigmas that still exist surrounding same sex marriage. Our willingness to share our story has allowed us to become a part of the important changes happening in our country today.
It is amazing to stand here, in front of all of you, and know that the tide really is turning. We are making progress in each and every realm, in each and every facet of our society.
It was just last week that a CNN poll showed that 49% of people asked believe that same sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. We are just two percentage points away from our majority. This may frighten our opponents, but it should inspire and energize our community to stand up and say, in a unified voice, I am somebody and I deserve full equality!
Our inspired community needs to rise up and show people that we are just like every other American citizen. That we have a right to love who we love, and that we are not going to harm you or anyone else by expressing that love.
We are changing people's hearts and minds each and every day, and it is only a matter of time before we find the glorious success about which we've dreamed – that is, full federal equality for the entire LGBT population.
We may never change the minds of those like Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown, and those supporters of the National Organization for Marriage but we don't need to do that. We need a majority of this country to believe that love is love, that love has no gender, and that discrimination is wrong.
I have faith that we are moving in that direction. I have faith that people are beginning to understand that our relationships, our unions, our marriages in those places where it is legal can only positively impact their own partnerships. I have faith that this peaceful rally will continue to help us move in the right direction and...
I have faith that all discrimination in this country will, very soon, be history.
And I came across this line in one of their pieces...
"Marriage helps create and care for the next generation, helping to satisfy men and women's deep human longings for connection with each other... Marriage works by fostering commitment, trust, fidelity, and cooperation..."
I stopped dead in my tracks for a moment. "Wait a minute! THIS is actually a lovely and open statement. It doesn't just apply to unions between a man and a woman.
Because marriage is about connection. It is about the future. It is about trust, and fidelity, and cooperation. Whether they like it or not, the leaders of the National Organization for Marriage are talking about all unions, all marriages, and not just those between a man and a woman.
If only we could make them realize that.
The National Organization for Marriage wants you – heck, they want EVERYBODY to believe that people like Greg and I can not be committed to one another, that we can not create a relationship based on trust, and that we could never raise children and care for the next generation.
Well, we are here today for one really good reason. We are here to tell Brian and Maggie and the rest of the organization: You. Are. Wrong.
Each and every human being has the capacity and the RIGHT to love, to be loved in return, and to express that love through the institution of marriage.
As Judge Walker so eloquently stated in his recent decision that rendered Proposition 8 in California unconstitutional:
"Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians."
I am not immoral. I am not harming anybody, nor will I ever harm anybody, because of the person I love.
I have a very simple solution to the "problem" of same sex marriage. It isn't a violent solution like some NOM followers might support.
My solution is not rooted in bigotry but, instead, in love and an open heart.
It is time that same sex marriage is fully recognized by each and every state.
It is time that this "social experiment" is fully enacted.
Same sex marriage will benefit millions of people in this country, including the children of same sex couples.
Marriage equality will go a long way to putting an end to the discrimination that all LGBT people face. It will show that tolerance is not an option in this country but a necessity. It may even lead to acceptance, which is something about which we all dream, yet don't dare discuss, like some sort of birthday wish that may not come true if we utter the words.
I firmly believe that our wishes will come true soon enough, but we can't stop because people here in Washington D.C. have full equality for its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents.
We must keep going. We must keep fighting. And we must keep believing that a better day is coming soon for every one of us.
It is only a matter of time before equality is ours.