There it was. Right there in the President’s inaugural address, about three quarters through. “The most evident of truths,” he stated, is “that all of us are created equal,” and that this truth “is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall….”
Seneca Falls. Selma. Stonewall. Sites of events that proclaimed, each so bravely in its day, that women, that African Americans, that LGBT people, stood in the embrace of equality – and moved America closer to its most vaunted and most precious ideals.
A few days after Thanksgiving, I stepped out of a modernist East Side building into a cold New York evening – elated. The building houses the rather grand offices of the Ford Foundation, generally regarded as the world’s most influential private foundation. And Ford had good news for the LGBT community.
A foundation steps up
That day, Ford had gathered people from the foundation and LGBT advocacy worlds to launch a major new initiative called “Out for Change.” It came with a commitment to grant $50 million over the next five years to LGBT causes.
Advocates like Horizons Foundation and the national Funders for LGBTQ Issues have long called for more private foundations to fund LGBT causes. While that advocacy has helped bring millions of dollars to our community over the years, total LGBT funding remains but a small fraction of one percent of all foundation grants. So the dollars alone promised by Ford will help. Equally important, Ford pledged to put its considerable institutional weight to work as well and encourage other wealthy private foundations to fund more LGBT work. Continue reading →
Not long ago, I attended a memorial for an aunt, my mother’s last remaining sibling. It took place where she’d lived for nearly 60 years, in Williamstown, a village up in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, nestled up against the New York and Vermont state lines.
An undaunted and undauntable woman, my aunt had been widowed at a young age and raised four children – my cousins – on her own. She’d championed women’s rights for decades, and was nearly elected to the state legislature, which I guarantee you would never have been the same had she made it.
What struck me during the service in the picture-postcard 18th century, colonial-style church, was this: of her four children, two are straight, one gay, and the other lesbian. All four and their respective spouses, of course, had come. Continue reading →