I AM A RESPONDER IT SEEMS
it would appear that if my brain goes on strike, as it does in overwhelming times, i may not be able to generate or create, but it also is true that when a statement or idea has tweaked my brain, commenting, either in internal dialog or written word is inevitable. since i have a drought of ideas here, and wrote a small pamphlet in a response, i thought i might as well quote myself here at home. if my family and friends are reading here as i have encouraged them to do, well you know who you are and thank you too.
BIRDIE, http://strelitziamusings.blogspot.com/2008/12/after-rallies-then-what.html wrote in part:
I think that most of the straight population has been complacent on the issue of gay rights primarily because they think they don't know someone who is gay, and they don't understand how the issue hurts a fellow human being. Catchphrases, shiny mass-produced signs and rhyming chants are not going to positively influence most of those who aren't already in agreement. Straight people need to know the stories behind those signs, songs, and slogans.
After and between the rallies, whether you attend or not, you have the critical moment of public awareness. How do you use it? By telling your story. Not necessarily to the world, although some will take that risk. But step up and tell your story to those who already know you. Tell them what it feels like to be left behind; how it feels to struggle for rights that straight people take for granted like breathing; and what it is to be made to feel less than fully human for being different. Put a face on this issue. Come out, come out, wherever you are. This war will be fought on many fronts, but it will be won in heart-to-heart encounters by people like you.
and one of her posters asked:
So, okay, you've outlined what looks to me like a viable strategy for spreading the news. How do I, as a straight ally, "come out" to the people who know me already?
this was my straight from the gut/heart response:
you know, birdie et friends, after years of protests, demonstrations, police confrontations, letters to the editor, sit ins and the like, some of which resulted in my being tear gassed or night sticked, and seeing so very little progress, i had all but given up trying ro bring about social change, especially employing reason, constitutionality or morality as hoped for common ground.
i went about repairing my tattered life, bit by bit, first by getting sober, later by helping others get sober, and/or being a good listener in times of emotional distress. always throughout this, upon entering a helping relationship, or even a close emotional friendship, there was the annoying but mandatory coming out explanation, ESPECIALLY with men. it was rarely an issue up front, although on occasion it became a putative reason for backing off, usually when truths i was telling became uncomfortable. most of those "breakups" found there way back over the years. the others found a more deceitful comfort in the bottle or drugs.
always, i was the gay man who didn't take advantage of a situation, even on those rare occasions when emotions became confused.
so, from what you are saying, i was never disengaged from this revolution at all, just fighting a quieter fight.
this has become more obvious in the years since i found a way to get on line. the computer gave me a voice that could be heard by any newspaper, any legislator, any advertiser, any network, any religious institution, any school hierarchy, any commentator, and indeed, even the office of the president of the USA. and at one time or another they all have.
and i have made sure those "protégés " of mine KNEW how these issues affected me and mine. at first i was lucky to perhaps have sensitized them to the issues, and then, sometimes, even in the marine corps, they would hear some crap that just got to be too much, and would speak up. and then they married, and i became parts of those families, and their wives and children, and even their families of origin in some cases became aware of the injustices as well.
it would seem that single handedly, just by being out and being me, i have moved the national conversation a few clicks in the right direction.
in reply to the question of how can a straight person help.
by doing the same thing. and know this, for it is fact, your words and commitment mean more to the end result than mine. they have more weight, and they become part of conversations i would never be privy too. without you and the risks YOU take coming out, we are just too small and too segmented a group to ever achieve equality, as we have no characteristic or geography to unite us, and indeed, even are families of origin are often devoid of understanding or support. you are esential to the mix!