The 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.
Mandela’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.
Foundations rarely just “meet.” They “convene.” In fact, alongside perennial foundation-world buzzwords like “community” and “partnership,” convening might be the field’s most gratuitously overused word. There’s nothing wrong, of course, with community, partnership, or convening. It’s just that when deployed so relentlessly, the words begin to drain of meaning.
But sometimes “convening” fits the occasion. I write this while flying somewhere over Ohio, heading home after a gathering that does merit the grander moniker. The world’s second largest foundation, the Ford Foundation, brought together 150 or so leaders from LGBT advocacy and foundation worlds. It was an honor to be there. Continue reading →
I’m about to violate Rule Number One of blogging: Keep those blog posts short! And, generally speaking, it’s an excellent rule to follow. Most people aren’t enamored about reading rivers of words, much less on small screens.
But for every rule (well, most every rule) there’s an exception, and this is one. Just over a week ago, Horizons held its annual gala at the grand Fairmont Hotel here in San Francisco. It was a great evening – a real celebration of community – with terrific honorees (Barney Frank and Kate Kendell), dancing late into the night, a rich mix of people, and a rare and wonderful energy that suffused the goings-on from the first glass of champagne to the last dance.
After dinner, I had the chance to make some remarks. The goal of the remarks was to convey not only a bit about what makes Horizons so important, but also where we all find ourselves today as a movement – and where we are headed, both as a foundation and as a community. We’ve copied them just below. – and they’re really not that long!
I hope they communicate something of what Horizons is all about and the exciting vision that we have for the future of the LGBT community. Thank you for taking the time to give them a look.
Just a couple of days ago, I learned that former President Clinton will be presenting his “Clinton Global Citizen Awards” this evening, September 24. The award ceremony follows a day-long conference on global issues attended by a glittering international array of presidents, corporate CEOs, leaders of large foundations, and high-profile international non-governmental organizations.
Because my invitation appears to have – once again – been lost in the mail, I won’t be there in New York tonight. But I’d like to be. And not just to listen and learn from a stellar gathering of leaders (though that would be a treat).
No, I’d like to be there because among those whom President Clinton will recognize tonight is Bishop Christopher Sengonjo, a retired Anglican bishop – and an extraordinarily brave ally to LGBT people in his native Uganda. Continue reading →