Friday, August 14, 2009

VIDEO: A Speech in Support for the National Equality March

I am happy to be with all of you on a day when America witnesses our call for the greatest affirmation of freedom, equality and justice in the history of our country.

Forty years ago, a great awakening occurred, as our brothers and sisters began to open their closet doors following a demonstration of pride and liberty that was seen in New York City at the Stonewall Inn but whose seismic waves were felt across our country. On a night that stretched back two hundred years ago to the birth of our nation's independence, we as LGBT people began to feel the warmth of hope from the morning sun, and our American dream to be full and equal citizens was born.

Forty years later, we have come very far to realize this dream, but we know that our quest for freedom and equality is still a dream. Our people still live with the fear of being attacked if they show their true colors. Our workers still live with the fear of being fired just for being themselves. Our servicemen and women still live with the shame of re-entering their closets in order to defend this great nation. Our relationships still live with the disgrace of being stripped of our dignity and respect compared to other relationships. Our families still live with additional hardships in helping develop our next generation compared to other families. It is this fear, this shame, this disgrace and these hardships that bring all of us to stand here and show ourselves to all of America and each of its 50 states, each of its 435 congressional districts.


We are here today at our nation's capital to ask our country to deliver on its promise for freedom, equality and justice for all of its citizens, not just regardless of race, age, creed, gender and national origin, but also regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. This American promise was born from the demand made by our forefathers for the guarantee of equal and unalienable rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This promise has been fulfilled for so many Americans, but to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, it remains a promise. But we also know that our quest for the fulfillment of this promise can only be met with the price of a struggle. We have seen past struggles felt from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement, the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Civil Rights Movement, and our own LGBT Civil Rights Movement. We come from ancestors who valiantly struggled in these previous movements, in these pivotal moments of our American history, and we proudly join together and follow in their footsteps, struggling to come to Washington D.C. to be here today, knowing that the struggles we face will not stop us on our quest to fulfill our American promise. And we must struggle today, because now is the time to take our American dream and make it a reality, to emerge from our closets of captivity into the open fields of freedom, to rise from the shifty terrain of imbalance and stand on the firm soil of equality, to not just feel the warmth of the morning hope but to bask in the illumining light of uncompromising justice.

We struggle with each other for our American promise, but we also struggle inside of ourselves with the anger we feel from being denied this American promise. We are keenly aware that this anger can manifest into hate, and we must resist the temptation of hatred and honor our pride that is manifested from the understanding that we are good people. I can not tell you how much more difficult it is to have to overcome not just the oppression of being different but also the anger we feel from being oppressed and the ensuing fear, pain and suffering. But I can tell you that we will become stronger people in our attempts to overcome both our oppression and our anger. And we need to understand that the combativeness that has permeated our LGBT community should not lead us to turn our backs against Christians and other religious people, for many of them understand that we are tied together in our freedom and destiny, and their presence here today affirms that we will move forward and move together.

We march on Washington today, but our march continues on for equality across America, and in our quest for the American Promise, we must promise to each other that we will continue to march on. And we must march, not just with pride and hope, but also with courage. In the words of our great Maya Angelou, "Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtues consistently. You see? You can't be consistently kind or fair or humane or generous, not without courage, because if you don't have it, sooner or later you will stop and say, 'Eh, the threat is too much. The difficulty is too high. The challenge is too great.'"

There are some of us here today who have seen challenges that many of us have heard about but can only imagine. Some of you have come face to face with violence and suffered injuries. Some of you have had your property vandalized. Some of you have been kicked out from your own families. Some of you have been called pejorative names. Some of you have been stopped from seeing your significant other at the hospital. Some of you have been faced with deportation away from your significant other. Some of you are close to others who are no longer here, because their lives were ended by others. And some are no longer here, because they have ended their own lives, because their despair was too great to bear.

I tell you all, there is hope for us. And there is hope, not just because we embody the virtues of pride and courage, but because we are also armed with what I consider as the greatest virtue of all, and the virtue that defines us as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight people. That virtue is love.

It is love that binds us together in our relationships, through both good times and in bad, when we are healthy and when we are sick, for as long as we shall live. It is love that drives us to raise our children, providing them loving and nurturing homes, guiding them on a path to be a good person, and cultivating our future generation. It is love that compels us to contribute to our communities, making life better for all of us, and helping all of us be safe and secure in our surroundings. It is love that teaches us that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. It is love that answers the question of the very meaning of our lives And it is love that will fuel our struggle and answer our American promise to our American Dream.

If we are harassed, we answer with love.
If we are insulted, we answer with love.
If we are silenced, we shout with love
If we fall down, we rise back up with love.
If we are told that we are a threat to America,
We tell them back what we think about America
Divided We Fall, United We Stand.
Divided We Hate, United We Love.

And for those in America who still believe that we do not know what love is, I ask you to tell them to hear our song:

When you're in doubt take my hand
I'll stand by your side tonight cause
We will be better when we are together and
We are united in love

When in despair take my arm
As I hold you close to me and
We will go farther when we are together cause
We are united in love

When you're feeling good
I'll capture the time
When you're feeling sad
I'll help you remember
When you're feeling fine
We'll stay on our path
When you're feeling bad
I will be there for you and

Our love will sing loud and strong
Our love will keep going on

When you're in fear take my heart
I'll give you a hug tonight cause
We will be better when we are together and
We are united in love

When you're in angst take my lead
I'll show you the way today cause
We will go farther when we are together cause
We are united in love

When we're feeling rich
I'll never let go
When we're feeling poor
I'll help you recover
When we laugh away
I'll give you a smile
When we shed a tear
I'll comfort you gently and

Our love will sing loud and strong
Our love will keep going on

When you don't know take my word
I am here to stay with you, cause
We will be better when we are together and
We are united in love

We are united in love
United we love

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