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Pass the Torch... and the Ritalin: Keeping Focused on LGBT Equality

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A few weeks ago members of the gay community were up in arms over Jodie Foster and her coming-out speech -- or the lack thereof. In a time when gay visibility seems key in changing the mindset of our opponents, in encouraging and giving hope to the younger generation and in keeping the ball rolling on equal rights, Ms. Foster's "so what?" attitude, like my childhood Catholic priest, rubbed many the wrong way.

If Ms. Foster were going to take her moment in front of millions of people to discuss (or, in her opinion, not discuss) her sexuality, many, including me, would have appreciated a speech with more pride, less innuendo, more confidence and less Honey Boo Boo Child.

What we were yearning for was someone to speak unapologetically loud and proud with a sense of authority and power.

So why, then, not even 24 hours after the most powerful man in the free world mentioned the Stonewall riots and gay rights in his inaugural speech, did some people come down with a crippling case of selective amnesia, forgetting about the historic milestone that had just taken place, forgetting that we had just garnered the visibility that only weeks before "Nell" had denied us, and instead focusing on the alleged lip-syncing of a disco diva?

Where is the disconnect?

We fight so hard for our accomplishments, we should celebrate them just as passionately. Now is not the time to gloss over what was achieved; now is the time to rejoice in it. Now is the time to remember the many generations, from Stonewall and before, who started this amazing yet difficult, heartbreaking yet life-affirming journey toward equality, and to draw on their memory to fuel our fire to continue the fight.

I understand that not everyone is able or willing to hold the torch for gay rights. Ms. Foster clearly is not comfortable having her personal life in the public spotlight. Like many people, I wish that Ms. Foster were more vocal in celebrating the fact that she is gay. Such a prominent, powerful gay woman who is successfully raising children would be a wonderful representation of our community. However, there is a little-known fact that may be relevant to why her personal life is kept under lock and key, one that I haven't heard many people touch upon: the fact that, once upon a time, a crazed fan named John Hinckley, Jr., tried to assassinate President Reagan to prove his love for her! Call me crazy, but if someone tried to kill anyone in my name, I'd probably keep my personal life on the DL as well.

Now, I do not know what it is like to have a stalker (and no, that is not my roundabout way of asking to find out). I have only two fans. One is my 94-year-old Italian nana, but the only real danger she poses is boring me to death with tales of how my cousin Jackie "can't eat anything with seeds, because it inflames her diverticulitis," or how my other cousin Rene "has such bad plantar fasciitis that she has to sleep in a high-heeled shoe!" My other fan is a Vornado.

So, fine, because of one bad apple, Jodie Foster is off the torch-carrying list. Now what?

I know! How about the president of the United States of America mentioning the Stonewall riots, which might be considered the most important event leading to the modern gay liberation movement, in his inaugural speech? Or how about the president just mentioning gay equality in general during his speech, in front of the country and the world at large? Seems pretty significant to me!

Wait a minute, scratch all that equal rights drama... Was that Destiny's Child girl pulling a Milli Vanilli?

For the record, Beyoncé Knowles has bowel movements that are more talented than 99.9 percent of the human population. She has proven time and again that her talents, both vocally and otherwise, are undeniable, and she remains one of the most influential performers of our era. So, because Ms. Knowles' ability to sing is not up for debate, what is really going on here? Why are people choosing to focus on something so insignificant?

I'm not saying that I'm not lured in by the entertainment value of the fun and frivolous. I make my living doing musical theater and would also like to take this opportunity to say, "Hi, my name is John, and I am addicted to Mob Wives." In fact, some might say I bear a striking resemblance to Big Ang. However, diverting our attention away from the president's acknowledgment of and outspoken support for the LGBT community, even before the rainbow glitter has settled, appears unaware at best and ungrateful at worst.

I know that most people do not care about pop culture and have their eye on the prize when it comes to the gay rights movement. However, I can't help but feel discouraged by the apathetic attitude some in my young(ish) generation exhibit when it comes to being political and active in our community.

We can't have it both ways. We can't demand visibility and equality and, once we achieve progress, be distracted by a shiny new topic that gets our attention. Doing so makes us look disorganized, and our apparent inability to remain steadfast comes off like some sort of ADD -- gay-DD? We are the torch carriers now, and it is time to step up and focus, people. Focus!

Oh, and by the way, did you see Hillary during that Benghazi hearing? Amazing, right? But did you see her hair? I. Mean. Really?!