I bet there are at least 59 people who will not read this blog today. On January 10th, when I posted a note commending the United States Marine Corps for standing up for the civil rights of same-sex spouses, even when the rest of the DoD has not, over half of my admittedly small fan base as a blogger voted me out of their social media lives as of January 14th. Maybe it was something else, a hanging gerund or one to many sentences ending with a preposition that led the casual reader and liker of my blog to unlike me. However, I have a feeling it was the discovery that I supported civil rights. I wonder if this revelation invalidates my past statements and achievements for these 59 souls?
In many ways I owe these 59 people an apology that they only found out now that I support the civil rights of all American service members, regardless of race, religion, sexual identity, or gender. However, I owe a larger apology to all of my friends and readers who are gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, and allies who are also perhaps only now, or only on January 10th, learning about my support for civil rights.
I have been operating under a perversely distorted view of my public duty to first and foremost get veterans and Americans outside and anything I said or did that might inhibit my ability to do that was off limits. I knew all along that many service members and veterans, many Americans, don't see the world as I do. I did not want to frighten them off if they knew I supported gay rights, but honestly, what is frightening about gay rights?
When you are in a position of influence, even if it is a small position of influence like my blog on the backwater of the Huffington Post, to speak out on what is right, you have to speak out, act out, or risk complicity in the action you witness. My silence on the issue was a stain on the valor of those men and women who served and are serving, without the same rights and privileges I have. I am sorry; I hope I can lift that stain. And to the other 59 who may someday read this, the outdoors, this country, was founded on the principal of equality for all of us and all of us owe a debt to those who serve and those who support them, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. There is nothing politically correct about liberty, it is well above such foolishness.
And as far as getting everyone outside, including our service members, veterans, and their families, no tree or rock cares what you do in your own time. Outdoors you will not have time to question the color of someone's skin when you are intent on getting trout to rise on a clear stream. Outdoors, you will not have time to question someone else's political viewpoints, when the two of you are focused on getting to the summit of a distant mountain or catching the next wave in the set.
Unfortunately, as commenters on my blog and 59 people indicated over the last four days, humanity is not yet as understanding as nature, and we have to work daily to break down the barriers that separate us.
Let's get to work, and I hope to see you at the trail head. Everyone is welcome.