Obama gives gay equality an inauguration shout out. Now what?
President Obama’s inauguration speech is going to make things interesting in the coming days:
President Obama made history . . . when he mentioned both the Stonewall uprising and gay and lesbian people being treated “like anyone else under the law” during his second inauguration speech. “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall…” he said.
He continued: “It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
This the first time that a president has addressed gay rights during an inauguration speech.
For now, I think members of the religious right are passed out in an apoplectic coma. But on our side, there are those already with their fists up proclaiming “action speaks louder than words.” While I understand where they are coming from, I am also not so jaded that I ignore historical moments. And a president mentioning gay equality in his inaugural address is a TRUE HISTORIC MOMENT. It signals the simple fact that we must admit that we are no longer total outsiders of the American experience who have to scream louder than others to get attention. If we didn’t believe it before, we had better start believing it now – lgbts are a part of the mainstream.
It’s safe to say we have all of the attention we want or need. The question is where does our community go from here. What do we do with the attention because there are so many areas in our struggle which need it.
Are we going to continuously fight amongst ourselves, evoking the boogeyman of “Gay Inc?”
Are those who have “stroke and power” in our community in terms of what issues get addressed going to diversify their mindsets or continue soak to themselves in wine-soaked cliques and fundraising parties of the so-called beautiful people while feeding our minds with cotton candy confections about which celebrity came out or didn’t come out enough?
Is our media going to talk about real issues such as self-esteem, the worldwide struggle of gay equality which touches every age, color, creed, and gender or continue to focus on materialistic things which look good and smell good on our bodies but the majority of lgbts neither can afford or have any desire to care about?
And finally, are we going to initiate an unprovoked public conversation about the propaganda spread by some in the name of religion, i.e. the lies about our families and our health. Or are we going to continue to fail to respond to these lies except for a vulgar comment printed on a facebook page? Is the majority of the lgbt community and our allies ready to take on (with intelligence and dignity) the propaganda artists at those religious right groups who have stolen and co-opted not only the name of religion but also that of family?
It’s wonderful that Obama mentioned us in his inaugural speech, but let’s never forget that ultimately the success of gay equality lies in our hands. We own it and whatever President Obama does in his last four years in office will never change that.
The point is not what is President Obama prepared to do. The point is what is the lgbt community prepared to do.