Promises To Keep And Miles To Go

As we go through life there's a handful of people who change you, whose words haunt you and in critical times, challenging times, crucial times shape your thoughts, move you to action and help you be that part of change, the solution instead of sitting on the sidelines.
So it only makes sense that as we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of Detroit Summer, the words of James Boggs weighed heavily on my mind and influenced my actions not only in 2012 but as we go in to 2013. In founding Detroit Summer, Jimmy asked "What can we be that our children might see?"
It began with the elections and the divisive politics pitting more than Democrats against Republicans, progressives against conservatives but the haves against the 99 percent -a hodgepodge of Americans that includes immigrants, women, youth, labor, and the LGBT community.
What we discovered was that we, this hodgepodge of America, this 99 percent were all under attack. This attack promised to do more than turn back hard won human/civil rights of the past, but deny rights moving forward not just for us but for our children as well.
Even while conservative organizations used the Citizens United ruling to funnel millions of dollars into attempts to influence, buy and out-and-out steal the election, adversity brought us together.
The President's evolution on LGBT marriage and the prominent role of our issues at the Democratic National Convention, along with the GOP's recurring incidents of "foot in mouth," broadened the discussion.
Our issues were different, but the intersections between social justice and LGBT equality became even clearer – attacks on Choice/Planned Parenthood and women's health issues included lesbian health initiatives; discussions on full employment included ENDA; and family values/protections included our families.
In 2012 we dodged the Romney/Ryan bullet, but there's no time to sit on our laurels, hope that the Mayan predictions for the end of times is wrong and pick out our inaugural gowns.
Washington grid-lock continues and at the state level, well Michigan's lame duck legislature showed us how dangerous that can be – the war for equality rages on.
As the days countdown to 2013, the question remains; "What can we be that our children might see?"
Studies show that more and more Americans have evolved on LGBT marriage and equality but it will take more than changed minds.
Our efforts to educate and register voters must continue – right now! We've seen the enemy, and if we don't take proactive steps to educate, mobilize and get out our vote, our inaction will continue to be our own worst enemy come 2014.
Social issues like equality are very much inexorably tied to fiscal and financial issues; many in the LGBT community get hit with the double struggle of a bad economy and legal employment discrimination against them.
We must continue to build upon the alliances formed in 2012 within the progressive community, but as partners, not part of the supporting cast. We have skin in the game not just as Americans but as Gay Americans.
Our rights, our issues, our stories must be heard – they are, have been and will be part of America's story.
We have to quit talking about diversity and inclusion and be diverse and inclusive. That's the world our children see and it's time we start doing the serious work to make it so, and that includes within our LGBT leadership and organizations.
Time and time again, when sitting around the diversity campfire I hear the same story. "We try to be inclusive and have reached out to (gay/straight, youth, people of color, transgender – fill in the group of your choice) but it just hasn't worked out.
On the flip side, I hear from the other folks (youth, people of color, transgender – fill in the group of your choice) that although a seat was offered at the table the menu remained unchanged.
Decisions, strategies, new initiatives and governance remains the same. As one Latina sister told me, "Adding Habanero sauce to the condiment tray but still serving peas and white rice ain't inclusion!"
Let's face it, if we can't get it together in our LGBT house our work will continue to be an uphill battle in the state and federal legislative houses. There's a lot of work to be done for our families, in the workplace, and for marriage equality.
As one year ends and a new year begins we must each decide how and where we are going to give and commit our time, talent and tithes.
So as you contemplate how you will commit your time, (especially over the next four years; hate to say it but we still have two elections to be working on now) and reinvest in our community (yes the money will have to come from us), don't say no. Say yes to equality.
Because we have promises to keep to our community and most importantly to our children, and miles to go before we sleep.


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