This year has been a whirlwind of change for LGBT rights because of the blood, sweat and tears of so many dedicated LGBT activists over these last four decades.
Yet we can't celebrate our recent victories without acknowledging the people who helped us get here even though they never had a dog in the fight. Almost all of us have a family member, a friend or a coworker who encouraged us, looked out for us, and would update us with excitement or disappointment whenever big news came down the wire. They were invisible activists who never understood what the big deal was and stood up for us when everybody else criticized us behind closed doors. If anything, the political transformation over this last decade is also thanks to the millions of straight folks who walked side-by-side with us.
For those who are in the more conservative parts of society or who chose jobs in the military, business or work meant for "tough guys," having a straight ally is especially important. They were our mentors and coworkers who looked out for us, helped us advance in organizations that didn't want us, and never let us start feeling sorry for ourselves. We got raises, promotions, good reviews and awards because of these heroes. They have been guardian angels in a world filled with ignorant souls.
It's going to be a great day when LGBT Americans don't need guardian angels anymore. It'll be wonderful when we can expect to be treated equally solely on the content of our character, but that day has not yet come. Even though it seems that the pendulum of history has begun to swing in our favor, the pendulum never fully reaches one side. There will always be differences, discrimination and difficulty communicating between cultures and communities. I think we'll be just as happy and just as grateful for our straight friends in the future as we are today.
So in the midst of all the good feelings, the celebrations and the deserved applause for our LGBT activist heroes, let's not forget the Olsons, the Obamas, the Pelosis and the Clintons, who have been there with us along the way. Let's not forget those friends and mentors, coworkers and family members who have held us up as we stared down the world.
Let's celebrate our straight allies too.
This blog post is dedicated to my mentor, friend and guardian angel, Chief Palmer Pinckney. Congratulations on your promotion to Senior Chief Petty Officer. I won't ever forget to keep the press!