As we enter another Gay Pride History Month, there will be a plethora of blogs and articles how far we in the GLBTQ have to go and when will change ever come. Blogs and articles on status of the repeal of DADT, when DOMA will be repealed the several marriage cases in court challenging the state laws against gay marriage. And while the articles do raise important and salient issues I urge my GLBTQ brothers and sisters to simply enjoy the ride.
I remember several spring break road trips I would take with friends across the country; I would be the one sitting in the back asking "how much further?" "are we there yet?" and "why it taking so long." I just wanted to get there and have fun. What I wasn't doing was taking the views and sights of the places we were traveling through. Nor was I using that time to plan on what I was going to do when I got there. I just kept asking "are we there yet?"
One of the greatest side effects of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's is that it produced some of the greatest songs, artists and social awareness this country has ever known. There was a sound a feeling of the turbulent 1960's that was palpable. The movement had a voice, a sound. The Civil Rights Movement birthed songs such as "We Shall Overcome" and "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing"; artists such as Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Jackson 5 and Sidney Portier. The songs captured the discontent and hopefulness of a people who were oppressed yet hopeful. African-American artists became the best in their area during the time when they were not even allowed to use the same bathroom in the venues that they performed. They focused their discontent into creating songs, poetry, artistry and movies that defied the establishment and showed their pride. And as the Civil Rights Movement ended these moments were cherished because they commemorated a moment in history that could not be recaptured. Their artistry laid the foundation for individuals such as Kanye West, Beyonce', Jamie Foxx, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey and President Barack Obama.
And while the GLBTQ community has been diligent in pursuing the rights that have been wrongfully denied to us, there has been little production of a voice or sound to illustrate our movement. We are not enjoying the ride. We are not taking full advantage of a moment we will never have again. Yes, the ride is difficult and unfair, but we should channel our frustration into creating something that celebrates us as individuals, remembers those who came before us and recognizes how far we have to go. We should be creating something that will leave our undeniable mark on history on America. That is the perfect expression of pride.
It is true that television shows such as "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy", "Will & Grace" and "Queer as Folk" or movies such as "Brokeback Mountain" have done a lot for the Gay Rights Movement. They are accidental by products. Their intent was not to show discontent or voice hope for the oppressed GLBTQ community, or to advocate gay rights. But they did succeed in bringing the GLBTQ experience to the center of American consciousness. And artists such as Ian McKellan, Lee Daniels, Lance Bass, Ellen DeGeneres, Lance Bass, Ricky Martin, Adam Lambert and Portia De Rossi are excellent role models. But we need more, the GLBTQ youth deserve more. There has not been a sound or voice anyone can point to that embodies the Gay Civil Rights movement. And "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga does not count.
As such many GLBTQ individuals and the media have asked where are the GLBTQ leaders? Who is the Martin Luther King, Jr. or the Malcom X of the Gay Civil Rights Movement? Who will galvanize the GLBTQ community? I say find our voice; get our sound and the leadership will come. Leadership comes from inspiration. Through the creation of songs, poetry, paintings, and films we will find our voice and our leadership. Every day is a new day to illustrate through art the hardship of being a closeted military officer, a wrongfully discharged gay employee or a couple that cannot get married. Thus we in the GLBTQ community should equally invest our energy in fighting for equality and celebrating where we are now. Because once we do have equal rights we won't be able to go back. What will be the song that will memorialize our movement? Who will be the Sidney Portier of our movement? What song is our "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing"? What would they put in our Gay Rights Museum?
So this month, as we attend our Pride Parades and remember those who came before us, take some time and enjoy the ride. Write a poem, sing a song, express your joy and discontent through art. It wasn't until I became an adult and took road trips with my friends did I learn how to enjoy the ride and take in everything that we passed on our trips. Each moment allowed me to appreciate my arrival even better. Whether it was a song that we all sung on the radio to funny moments at the gas station; these were the moments that made our trips memorable. Because when the time comes and the GLBTQ community has everything we asked for there should be something besides "RuPaul's Drag Race" to remind of us the time when were not equal.