Why we still give

Yes, that was none other than Maggie Gallagher herself – the take-no-prisoners founder of the National Organization for Marriage – quoted last week as admitting that her side had lost its fight to stop the scourge of marriage equality. Her troops, she wrote, “are in shock … awed by the powers now shutting down the debate and by our ineffectualness at responding to these developments.”

It can’t but be a great day when Maggie Gallagher concedes defeat. Like Anita Bryant and Phyllis Schlafly and Lou Sheldon and Frank Shubert, she’ll now fade into a footnote – if that – in the histories of the LGBT movement.

But hold that champagne …
It might be tempting to see Gallagher’s lament as another sign that the LGBT movement has, after decades of struggle, landed on a kind of glide path to equality, freedom, and justice. Can we just start taking it a little easier? Let history take its course?

Quite simply, no. We can’t hang up our marching shoes. We can’t lay back. And we can’t put away our wallets. Not while LGBT people in more than half the United States have no legal protection against basic discrimination. Not while 40% of homeless kids identify as LGBT. Not while thousands of LGBT elders have to go back in the closet to get services and transgender people can’t find housing or jobs.

Most of us know we’d be fools to wrap ourselves in a kind of smug cloak of inevitability. We know that Roe v Wade not only didn’t fully secure women’s reproductive rights, but those rights have been steadily chopped away in the 40 years since. We know that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 didn’t end racial discrimination. And we know that’ll be true with LGBT rights as well.

… we’ve all still got roles to play
One other thing that most of us know: equality, freedom, and dignity don’t come for free. Literally. Winning them costs money. Yes, of course, there needs to be much more than just money; we need courage and passion and good leaders and smart strategies, to name just a few.

But money’s needed for all of those. Money is like the water that simply has to flow if a farmer’s crops are going to grow.

Give OUT Day square Logo for Facebook profile pictureAll of us have roles to play. On May 15, every LGBT person and our allies has an exciting and novel opportunity to power our movement simply by giving. May 15 will be the second annual Give OUT Day, a single day on which thousands upon thousands of LGBT people will contribute to groups they care about. In its debut year in 2013, Give OUT Day raised more than $600,000 for nearly 400 organizations across the country. More than 600 have registered this year.

Find out all about it at www.giveoutday.org. Find a group you care about. Give to a nonprofit you’ve never heard of. Give to a queer youth organization, or an elders nonprofit or one helping victims of anti-LGBT violence or a cultural group. Or give to an organization that once helped you.

The important thing is to give. Tell your friends to give. Tell your co-workers. Spread the word. Together, we make not just a difference, but a movement.

Sochi – And Far Beyond

It’s almost impossible not to be moved by the artistry and images of the Olympic Games – not to mention skating commentator Johnny Weir’s outfits – but this time around, it’s all felt different. The Sochi Games have come to symbolize much more than athletic competition. Through a combination of overt host-country anti-LGBT hostility and savvy activism, Sochi has become a kind of coming out for global LGBT rights. Perhaps never before has the question of our rights had such prominence on the world stage. 

LGBT rights and the Olympics
rainbow ringsLGBT rights and the Olympics have been linked before. Back in 1982, in one of San Francisco’s many “LGBT firsts,” the inaugural Gay Olympics took place in Golden Gate Park’s Kezar Stadium. The International Olympic Committee infamously sued to bar organizers from using “Olympics” – and thus were born the Gay Games. (Side-note: Horizons is proud to have made the very first foundation grant to the Gay Olympics/Games that same year.)

That was a very different time. While the “Gay Olympics” controversy certainly got attention, it wasn’t by any means all supportive. In fact, even the concept of LGBT athletes remained quite radical back then. Continue reading

Creating Change: then and now

They say that everything’s big in Texas, and that was certainly true for the annual Creating Change conference in Houston last week. Sponsored by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force for the past 26 years, Creating Change ranks as the largest such gathering of LGBT people and allies anywhere.

CC CollageI remember when …
I happened to be at the very first Creating Change, at which maybe 100 of us gathered at the Hotel Washington, then a formerly lovely hotel that had faded enough that the Task Force could afford it. Back then, I lived in D.C. and volunteered at the Task Force, and for the second Creating Change wrote grant proposals to find some funding support. As grants for LGBT causes were then rarer than blizzards in Houston, we were beside ourselves when we hit our goal of $10,000.

While all that was exciting, and there was some vague sense of “this could be the start of something,” none of us then could envision what it’s become. Continue reading

In honor and in sorrow

Nelson_MandelaThe televisions, computer screens, and radio waves are and will be filled with the news of Nelson Mandela’s death. As well they should be. Perhaps no other figure, anywhere in the world, has commanded the kind of admiration and respect that this man has over the past 30 years.

It is difficult to know what to write at a moment like this, as words will never seem adequate. Yet it’s impossible not to try. The world has lost a historic and transformative leader, a man who stood with both courage and with pride; a man who understood the challenge, the necessity, and the enormous power of forgiveness; a man who fought for freedom, equality, and dignity for a whole people that had suffered unimaginable wrongs. And in doing so, with great and unwavering integrity, he inspired not just them but the entire world.

MandelaMandela’s vision was broad, encompassing not only those of the rainbow of racial and ethnic groups, but LGBT people as well. In all of Africa today, it is only the South Africa that Mandela led that has extensive legal protections for LGBT people, enshrined in its very constitution. That milestone would not have happened without the fierce and brave advocacy of LGBT South Africans themselves – nor without Mandela’s inclusive vision.  

Nelson Mandela’s legacy is – and long will be – vast in South Africa and far beyond. And while neither South Africa nor the world are today anywhere close to the ideals he championed, they are both far better off for his towering leadership.

All of us at Horizons Foundation join with you and hundreds of millions around the world in awe of his accomplishments, and in mourning his passing.

RD sig 09_2007 first thin

Roger Doughty
Executive Director

A dream, a movement, and a hero

March on WashingtonThis Wednesday, August 28, marks a momentous anniversary, 50 years since hundreds of thousands of people poured into Washington, D.C. for the March on Washington, the “march of marches” in the civil rights movement. It was on this day, 50 years ago, that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his immortal speech, and though his soaring finish has been quoted and replayed millions of times – if not quite as many as the “I have a dream” section – still his words bear remembering: 

 

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

(Full text available here.)

I imagine that, if he spoke today, Dr. King would expand the list of those “able to join hands” those he named explicitly in 1963. But the call for freedom, for freedom “at last,” remains as indispensable a call in 2013 as it was a half-century ago.

More than a “civil rights” march
This week’s anniversary could hardly be more timely. While the past June brought thrilling news for LGBT rights, the same court also gutted the Voting Rights Act just the day before Windsor and Perry came down. Continue reading

Another hero leaves us

Sarria ThumbnailHeroes and heroines fill the LGBT history books. Then there are the countless thousands whose courage and contributions may not have made it into any history books – but have helped make history all the same.

And there are some who’ve written whole pages in those books. Among those was José Sarria, who died, far from the city he helped shape, two days ago. In the 1950s and 60s, Sarria was the soul of the famous Black Cat Bar at the edge of North Beach, where countless people went to be entertained, to be among their LGBT kin, and to be safe – the regular police raids notwithstanding – from a hostile and uncomprehending world outside the club’s doors. Continue reading

A Grand Day

Dear Friends,

We won!
By now you’ve heard the 2013SCOTUSRainbowgreat and grand news: the Supreme Court has struck down DOMA and restored the right to marry for California same-sex couples. This day, June 26, 2013, joins a handful of others as truly historic, world-changing milestones on our long road to justice, dignity, and freedom.

At last
At last, survivors like Edie Windsor will be spared having to deal with rank discrimination while grieving their partners’ loss. At last, binational couples – thousands and thousands of them – will be able to sponsor their spouses for green cards, and the stain on our nation’s laws known as the Defense of Marriage Act will be erased.

And, yes, at last, after five years of struggle, loving couples from San Diego to Modesto to Eureka – and all points in between – will be able to choose to marry.

And, yes, oh happy words to write: The insult to all of us – LGBT people and all lovers of fairness and freedom – that was Proposition 8 is dead.

I remember another end-of-term Supreme Court decision, now 27 years ago, when the court upheld anti-sodomy laws in the infamous Bowers v. Hardwick case. I remember so easily the rage that I felt upon hearing the news.

Today is so, so blessedly different. Today, we have not one, but two, splendid legal victories. And they’re much more than simply courtroom triumphs. The process of litigating these cases – and the other challenges to DOMA in particular – that turned America into a countrywide classroom in which the absurdity and wrongfulness of DOMA and Prop 8 were there for all to see.

All of us, together
All of us at Horizons Foundation extend many, many congratulations to these cases’ plaintiffs, their attorneys, and the legal teams. They have helped make history. 

History, however, has been made by every single one of us who has donated, marched, persuaded, protested, written, canvassed, voted, lobbied, educated, spoken out, or litigated to move LGBT people down this road to justice, dignity, and freedom. History happened today – and in all the thousands of days and hours and minutes of hard work, generosity, vision, and commitment that led to today.

We all have a great deal – a grand deal – to be proud of.

With profound gratitude and in deepest pride,

Roger Doughty, Executive Director of Horizons FoundationRD sig 09_2007 first thinRoger Doughty,
Executive Director