Arts & Entertainment
What I'm feeling
By Braden Jahr
Originally printed 2/12/2004 (Issue 1207 - Between The Lines News)
Today I am sad. I mourn the loss of Florida.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, Florida has a ban on gay people adopting children and last month the court upheld that law. The law was being challenged by one family in Florida and now they may lose their children. I feel bad for people like Rosie O'Donnell who wanted to adopt a young girl, but wasn't allowed to solely on the basis that she has sex with women - actually just the fact that she has the ability to fall in love with a woman.
Today I am afraid. I received a letter from my Senator in response to a letter that I had sent him regarding gay marriage and the fact that a very mean spirited amendment was proposed in Michigan. The Senator was non-committal. He said that he supported the Defense of Marriage Act but what he did not say has been haunting me. He did not say that he was going to support this amendment of Michigan's constitution or not. From what I have heard, he will vote for it, and make the voters of Michigan vote for or against this amendment. I am very afraid that if it goes to the voters of Michigan, it will pass. I am also afraid of the tactics that will be used to scare voters into voting for it. And I am afraid that if this happens, it will take a hell of a long time and a lot of work to undo the damage that will be done.
And finally, today I am angry. I'm pissed. I am so angry I could run to the Capitol and scream. I am not sure whether to cry, scream, shiver, or maybe even just quit. But I am doing my best to make this anger healthy. I am just angry at the entire situation that our country is in. I feel like no one really cares one way or another about other people. I mean, I was beat up and abused because I am gay - but there are still no laws that protect me, no anti-discrimination laws in my state that protect gay people. How many people have to die for this to happen? How many Brandon Teena's do we need? How many Matthew Sheppard's do we need? How many Bill Clayton's do we need? How many Braden Jahr's do we need? How many times do we REALLY need to be told that we are faggots?
How hard is it for people to see that it's only love? That we are people just like everyone else? That we should be allowed every single right that every other straight person has? How long do we have to beat ourselves up? What is it going to take? What is with this fear? If every gay person I knew stood up and was counted; if every gay man in Hollywood would say, "Screw it. You know what? I'm gay and I'm PROUD of it." What would happen?
I ask you to think about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington (the chief organizer - Bayard Rustin - was a gay man). Gay people are an "invisible minority." We need to make ourselves known - we need to show our true colors. Black people couldn't really hide. Gay people can. Is that, by chance, what is allowing all of those people to walk all over us? Why are we allowing it? We all know how much it hurts to hear those words and to see our rights being taken away or to know that we never even had them in the first place. So why not take a stand? Let the world know that you are no longer willing to be stepped on and also allow your family members and friends to be able to say that they won't stand to see you stepped on. So why don't we march? March out of the closets, locker rooms, television studios, apartments - wherever you are coming from and be proud to be you.
We need to show the world that we are people and that we are everywhere - in all walks of life. I won't say that we are all the same, but I will say that we share a common bond: the fact that we are human. Why should two men not be allowed to marry? Why shouldn't a decent, caring individual be allowed to adopt a child? Why are gay people still not allowed to donate blood? Why are we not protected against anti-gay violence and discrimination? Why do we continue to let these things happen?Braden Jahr, 18, is on the board of several local and national organizations, including PFLAG, Perceptions, and Youth Guardian Services. He presently lives in Bay Port, Michigan, with his partner, Jason. He has spoken to many youth, counselors, and teachers on what it is like to be a gay in today's society. In 2002, he won the Triangle Foundation's Youth Catalyst Award, which recognizes significant GLBT civil rights activism. Braden also runs his own web site - http://Broder13.com.