This past weekend I was a part of something incredible that happened in my community of Columbus, Ohio. After a fun night out in the Short North, my friend Ethan and I ventured down the street to a popular pizza truck called Mikey's Late Night Slice. As a frequent late night visitor to the truck I knew the requisite wait in line is part of the process for securing an insanely good slice of pizza. It was really cold so Ethan and I were holding hands and standing close together to keep warm, we were laughing and joking about all the fun we'd had that night, when all of the sudden the guy in front of us turns around and tells us to cut our "gay shit" out.
I was a bit startled by his words but I didn't expect what happened next. Almost every single person in that line made it known to him it was not OK for him to speak to us like that. By happenstance my friend John, who is also gay, was standing in front of him and as he continued his rant about being disgusted by us we both let him know that this was our city too and that we were not about to stand down to his bigoted ideas, especially not in one of the gayest neighborhoods in town. As he continued it was actually the straight people in line who spoke up that were so awesome.
I didn't expect to see allies so willing to chime in and let this guy know that his hate speech wouldn't be tolerated. The best part though was as he grew more irate and vocal the guys who work the truck stopped what they were doing and leaned towards the window and told him they would not serve him because he was spewing hate. They said they support everyone in our community and that he should get out of line because they would not be serving him. He begrudgingly got out of line and walked away escorted by a friend who had been hanging back.
As I walked away with my pizza all I could think about was "THAT'S IT!" Every person who spoke up to defend us including the pizza guys representing their business was doing their part to make hate a thing of the past. I've been involved for a number of years with our movement for equality having co-chaired the Human Rights Campaign dinner in Columbus and being involved as a community organizer but I had never witnessed such a public display of support. It was incredibly moving.
The next day I typed up a post on Facebook and shared it thinking my friends that read it might enjoy the display of courage of those that stood with Ethan and I that night and appreciate a local small business standing up for us as well. What I did not expect was the post to go viral and the responses from people all over the country regarding the story. It has been shared over 900 times since Sunday morning and a version with a fantastic response from Mikey's Late Night Slice was posted to reddit with over 266,000 views to date.
I think the story was so powerful because we as an LGBT community don't hear these types of stories where our allies and businesses speak up against oppressors. I think the fact that the story takes place in Ohio also has something to do with it. The state doesn't have the best reputation for LGBT rights but Columbus is a very progressive city in our state. We have a very large active gay population and we are the home of one of the largest pride festivals in the Midwest. The city just celebrated its bicentennial and is known as a smart and open city, which is a testament to the diversity of our community here.
I think stories like this shared by our LGBT friends and allies are important because it gives people hope and courage. It shows that the arc of the moral universe does bend towards justice and we are not alone in this struggle. I ended my post by saying we must never forget to speak up and make our voices heard no matter where we find ourselves. I firmly believe this is how we will continue to change hearts and minds across this country and in the world but we can't do it alone, we need everyone to take up our mantle for equality and drive it forward. I'm inspired and amazed at what has transpired with what started off as a simple post in appreciation of people who stood up for us and am grateful for the opportunity to share a little bit of Columbus with the world.
Also on The Huffington Post:
Anne Hathaway, who's been outspoken about her support for her gay brother, <a href="http://www.interviewmagazine.com/film/anne-hathaway-1" target="_hplink">told Chelsea Handler in <em>Interview</em></a>, "The other thing I want to say about Jersey is they need to get on the New York bandwagon and legalize gay marriage." She continued, "But I think everybody should do that. It's not a specifically Jersey thing."
Though it was revealed recently that Pitt and longtime partner Angelina Jolie <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/13/brad-pitt-angelina-jolie-engaged-jeweler_n_1424139.html" target="_hplink">are now engaged</a> (they previously said they would not get married until marriage was an option for all people), the actor has been a staunch supporter of the LGBT community. In 2009 he donated $100,000 to fighting Proposition 8, the California law which made same-sex marriage illegal in the state. Pitt said: <blockquote>"Because no one has the right to deny another their life, even though they disagree with it, because everyone has the right to live the life they so desire if it doesn't harm another and because discrimination has no place in America, <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/spielberg_makes_like_pitt_supports/30446" target="_hplink">my vote will be for equality and against Proposition 8.</a>"</blockquote> Pitt also recently starred in a production of Dustin Lance Black's play "8," based on the Prop 8 trial.
Lauper launched her Give a Damn Campaign to raise awareness for the struggles of gay and transgender youth. "For far too long, dogma and fear have torn apart too many families,<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cyndi-lauper/give-a-damn_b_1000046.html" target="_hplink">" she wrote in The Huffington Post in 2011</a>. "It is a time when the heart must lead the way when your child shares this personal and life-changing moment with you."
In a 2011 interview with <em>GQ</em> Eastwood said: "These people who are making a big deal out of gay marriage? I don't give a f*** about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We're making a big deal out of things we shouldn't be making a deal out of. They go on and on with all this bulls*** about "sanctity" -- don't give me that sanctity crap! <a href="http://www.gq.com/entertainment/movies-and-tv/201110/leonardo-dicaprio-clint-eastwood-gq-september-2011-cover-story-article#ixzz1dEBChGb4" target="_hplink">Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want."</a>
Barrymore <a href="http://www.justjared.com/2009/05/27/drew-barrymore-gay-marriage-rally/" target="_hplink">stepped out to support gay marriage</a> after the California Supreme Court's ruling to uphold Proposition 8 in 2009, saying "I am who I am because of the people who influenced me growing up, and many of them were gay. No one has any right to tell anyone what makes a family."
During an interview on SiriusXM radio, Barkley was asked how he felt about gay players in the locker room. Barkley responded <a href="http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gameon/post/2011/05/media-watch-charles-barkley-on-gay-athletes----we-dont-care/1#.T4wuIZrLx1M" target="_hplink">that a gay player would only be judged based</a> on "whether he can play or not. If somebody is gay, that's their own business. But it bothers me how people try to say that jocks are not going to like a gay. ... I think gay people should be allowed to get married and God bless them, that's their own business. Listen, if a guy can't play that's the only time we don't want to play with him. We don't care about all that extracurricular stuff."
"I like the diversity that my children are exposed to every day," Kate Winslet <a href="http://www.vmagazine.com/2011/09/kate-winslet/?page=2" target="_hplink">told <em>V</em> magazine in 2011</a>. "I love the way their brains work. Joe [her son] turns to me the other day and says, 'One day, I will have a girlfriend. But I might have a boyfriend. If I'm gay.' He's 7! And I said, 'You might have a girlfriend or a boyfriend, darling.' And he said, 'Which would you prefer?' And I said, 'My love, that would be entirely up to you, and it doesn't make any difference to me.'"
Not only has the New York Rangers hockey star come out in support of gay marriage (see the video above), when asked about <a href="http://www.torontosun.com/sports/hockey/2011/02/03/17146546.html" target="_hplink">what he'd do if there were a gay player in the locker room</a> he said: <blockquote>"I'll stand beside him in the dressing room while he tells his teammates he is gay. Maybe if Sean Avery is there, they would have less of a problem with it."</blockquote>
The "Harry Potter" star has long been an advocate for LGBT causes including <a href="http://www.thetrevorproject.org/" target="_hplink">The Trevor Project</a>, which helps LGBT youth who are dealing with suicidal thoughts. Radcliffe, who was <a href="http://www.out.com/entertainment/2010/08/08/daniel-radcliffe-and-our-lady-j-odd-couple" target="_hplink">featured on the cover of gay men's magazine <em>Out</em></a> with transgender musician and friend Our Lady J, will play gay poet Allen Ginsberg in an upcoming biopic.
"I think it's a very basic human rights issue," Moore, who played one half of a lesbian couple in 2010's "The Kids Are Alright,"<a href="http://www.wwd.com/eye/parties/calvin-klein-fetes-americans-for-marriage-equality-5400017" target="_hplink"> told <em>Women's Wear Daily.</em></a> "Everybody has the right to marry the person they love and be represented as a couple and family....It's something that people will look back on in years to come and say, 'I can't believe it took so long for us to recognize this.' It'll be like segregation and giving women the right to vote."
Brad Pitt wasn't the only one to donate to the fight against Prop 8. In 2008 Steven Spielberg also plunked down $100,000 in hopes of defeating the anti-marriage equality bill. Spielberg, who made the donation with his wife Kate Capshaw, said: "By writing discrimination into our state constitution, Proposition 8 seeks to eliminate the right of each and every citizen in our state to marry regardless of sexual orientation. <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/spielberg_makes_like_pitt_supports/30446#ixzz1sDFjEXxY" target="_hplink">Such discrimination has NO place in California's constitution, or any other.</a>"
In August 2011, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/03/miley-cyrus-why-i-got-my-gay-marriage-tattoo_n_1253130.html" target="_hplink">Cyrus tattooed</a> a small "equals" sign on her middle finger, in support of same-sex marriage. She later told <em>Glamour</em> that the idea of not being able to marry the person you love more than anything in the world makes her "feel sick to her stomach."
Penn played the role of slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk and was awarded an Oscar for his incredible portrayal. During his acceptance speech Penn said: <blockquote>"I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone."</blockquote>
Pink chose to set the video for her 2010 hit "Raise Your Glass" at a gay wedding. "I threw my best friend's wedding in my backyard -- [she] is gay and she married her wife, and it was absolutely beautiful," <a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1649597/pinks-raise-your-glass-video-celebrates-gay-marriage.jhtml" target="_hplink">she told MTV News</a>. "At the end of it, her mom said, 'Why can't this be legal?' and started crying. It was just the most heartbreaking thing I've ever seen, so that's why I'm doing it in my video. "
The entertainment mogul has long been an ally to the LGBT community. In a 2009 Huffington Post blog written as an open letter to then NY Governor David Paterson, Simmons said: <blockquote>"You have recently done this in showing support for the legalization of gay marriage. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russell-simmons/dear-governor-paterson-an_b_188307.html" target="_hplink">History will show you are right</a> and will we support you on this issue."</blockquote>
Portman and husband Benjamin Millepied <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/natalie_portman_benjamin_millepied_say/245874" target="_hplink">were among the stars</a> who signed Freedom to Marry's "I Do" open letter, which called on President Obama to declare his support for marriage equality.
The son of two lesbians, Wahls gave an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/01/zach-wahls-iowa-student-marriage-equality_n_1123020.html" target="_hplink">incredible pro-gay marriage, pro-gay parenting speech</a> in front of the Iowa House of Representatives in February of 2011. The speech was so inspiring that it went viral on the Internet not just in February of 2011 but then again nearly 11 months later in December of 2011. Up next, Wahls will serve as co-chair for "The Outspoken Generation," the Family Equality Council's national youth advocacy initiative <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/zach-wahls-outspoken-generation-ella-robinson-gay-parents_n_1408703.html" target="_hplink">involving the young adult children of LGBT parents.</a> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/zach-wahls-outspoken-generation-ella-robinson-gay-parents_n_1408703.html
Following New York's historic passage of a same-sex marriage bill in June 2011, Jennifer Aniston <a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1666491/jennifer-aniston-gay-marriage-vote.jhtml" target="_hplink">told MTV News:</a> "It's great! I thought it was unbelievable. So exciting in this time and that it happens to be Gay Pride weekend. What a great weekend."
In a recent interview with "the Advocate," the longtime LGBT ally, addressed rumors about his own sexuality and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/29/george-clooney-advocate-gay-rumors-marriage-brad-pitt_n_1310901.html" target="_hplink">affirmed his dedication to supporting his gay friends</a>: <blockquote>"I think it's funny, but the last thing you'll ever see me do is jump up and down, saying, 'These are lies!' That would be unfair and unkind to my good friends in the gay community," Clooney said. "I'm not going to let anyone make it seem like being gay is a bad thing. My private life is private, and I'm very happy in it. Who does it hurt if someone thinks I'm gay? I'll be long dead and there will still be people who say I was gay. I don't give a sh*t."</blockquote>
The wrestling star and Division I wrestling coach recently launched Athlete Ally, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which aims to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hudson-taylor/gay-college-sports-coaches_b_1210651.html" target="_hplink">educate and empower straight allies in sports</a> to speak out against homophobia and transphobia.
Hutcherson is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/16/josh-hutcherson-glaad-vanguard-award_n_1428460.html" target="_hplink">the youngest person to ever be honored by GLAAD with the Vanguard Award for his work with the LGBT community</a>, which includes the founding of Straight But Not Narrow, a campaign that "is primarily directed to the young, straight male by using comedy and their peers to positively influence their views on LGBT teens." The teen, who filmed a video for SBNN (see above) told SamaritanMag.com, "...[the campaign] hits close to home for me. I have a lot of gay friends in Los Angeles. My roommate's gay and I lost two uncles when I was young to AIDS, so it's an important cause in my family."
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