Another New Year

I’m at that time of life when the new years come around a lot more frequently. (As my husband says, “Life is like a roll of toilet paper—the closer you get to the end, the faster it turns.”) But no matter how often we ring out the old and ring in the new, it’s a time for reflections and resolutions, both communal and personal.

 For those engaged in the fight for GLBT equality, the year that just ended brought mixed feelings and results. Maine and New York were bitter disappointments. On the other hand, progress more and more seems inevitable, inexorable. Little by little, as my generation “departs” (gentle term for “dies off”), younger people with gay friends and fewer prejudices take our place.

 Obama has disappointed many in the community by not moving more quickly on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and other campaign promises. On the other hand, his White House has hosted more visibly gay people than any of his predecessors—and probably more than all of those predecessors combined—and his administration includes numerous openly gay appointees. Not very long ago, we would have all cheered just at the change in rhetoric emanating from the Oval Office. Much of the disappointment is a result of greatly expanded expectations, and the impatience nurtured by the truly stunning cultural changes of the past few years.

 Speaking of those changes, this year the fourth-largest American city elected an openly lesbian mayor, and the California legislature chose an openly gay man as its next leader. Here in my own hometown of Indianapolis (a city often referred to as the buckle of the bible-belt), I attended a Christmas fundraiser for Indiana Equality, an umbrella organization formed a few years ago by GLBT groups to lobby our occasionally retrograde General Assembly. Among the 300 plus attendees were the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian Party chairs, and a number of elected officials and political candidates of all three parties. That just wouldn’t have happened a few years ago.

 I could go on, but the bottom line here is that we need to reflect upon, recognize and celebrate the amazing amount of progress that has been made.

 Which brings us to resolutions. And the first of those is to remind ourselves that, despite enormous progress, members of the GLBT community are not yet equal. There are too many states (including my own) where someone can legally be fired simply for being gay. There are too many states where the 1008+ legal benefits that come with marriage are inaccessible to gays and lesbians. There are too many states (including my own) where civil rights statutes do not bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. So resolution number one must be to recognize how much more needs to be done.

 Resolution number two, obviously, is to keep fighting the good fight. Testify at legislative hearings. Write letters to the editors of local papers. Give every cent you can spare to the organizations that are fighting for equality. Work hard to elect gay and gay-friendly candidates. Talk to people—in your family, at your workplace, in your neighborhood—who may still not understand that gays remain second-class citizens in so many arenas. This can be incredibly difficult, but it is probably as important as anything you can do. The act of coming out by so many in the community—often at great emotional cost and financial risk—was undoubtedly the single biggest impetus to the positive social changes we have experienced.

 And of course, no list of resolutions would be complete without the perennial one. This is the year I’m really going to lose weight. How about you?

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