(This commentary is edited and republished annually)
43 years ago this week, the state in which I reside, murdered 4 students at Kent State University and wounded nine others who were guilty of nothing more than practicing their inalienable right to free speech.
We hear all the time about political protesters being cut down in foreign countries by their government. We dare not forget that has happened in own country as well.
Democracy in the United States has withstood the efforts of the social and political right to limit the freedoms of America’s citizens from its earliest days. Is it an exaggeration to compare some reactionary American conservative efforts to stifle human liberty to the more overtly tyrannical leaders of other countries? No. The same fear, hate and cynicism that inspires a dictator to slaughter his own people when they object to the limitations placed on their civil liberties is same motivation at play when we hear our fellow Americans talk about femma-Nazis, the gay agenda, minority people who expect “special treatment,” or when conservatives suggest that by protecting the rights of all Americans, the government is somehow limiting the rights of “real Americans,” AKA: gun owners, pro-life Christians, Islamophobes, homophobes or the Catholic Church.
The kind of narcissism, greed, prejudice and blind hatred for people and ideas that conservatives find unacceptable is a historic challenge for those of us who have the capacity to appreciate the diversity of humanity and the universal rights of all people.
We owe it Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Knox Schroeder and Sandra Scheuer to continue the fight for the very freedoms they were denied on May 4, 1970. The privileges of being an American are not exclusive to any one religion, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or political persuasion.
This beautiful rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s, True Colors by the Gay Men’s Chorus of LA was intended to send a reassuring message to LGBT kids facing rough times. But let’s be honest, when all is said and done, don’t all of us at one time or another feel crapped-on by life need to hear this message again and again?
What makes you different is exactly what makes you so wonderful, amazing, unique, special, appreciated and a very valued contributing member of this crazy-wonderful world.
Too often, those of us who identify as American Jews and Zionists, whether on the political right or left, fight our discussions about the Jewish state focused on Israel’s relations with the Palestinians and her hostile neighbors. In point of fact though, while we in the Diaspora worry and argue about Israel’s policies and actions on the political stage, our sisters and brothers in Israel have built a remarkable country that in just 65 years has become the envy of much of the world! In science, medicine, agriculture and technology Israel is second only to America.
One boring Sunday in April, 9 years ago, I quite accidentally fell into a movie I had not previously even heard of: Latter Dayswas what some might call, niche or artsy independent film. Long before anyone heard about Brokeback Mountain, Latter Days opened my eyes to the possibility and beauty of gay love. I was so taken by the film that I returned to the same theater no less 5 times in the following days. (I often wondered if the multiplex theater in Las Vegas that I was visiting every 2-3 days had extended its stay by 2 weeks because of die-hard fans like me who couldn’t getting enough of the film.) Then I went into a profound depression that left me weepy and unmotivated to go to work or do much of anything.
Just a couple of weeks after my first viewing of Latter Days, I put my depression behind me by finally, at age 48, coming out of the closet. I said ‘yes‘ to the possibility of love and companionship and I’ve never looked back.
Similar psychological dynamics played themselves out in my head this past weekend but in reverse. Yesterday, as I took my weekly Shabbat afternoon walk, I found myself in a funk: I was somewhere between ready to bite the head off of the first person who looked at me the wrong way and a strong desire to throw a few things in a backpack and disappear into a remote forest for an indefinite period of time.
Then I saw the video below which had been posted to Facebook. After lots of T&T (tears & tissues) I felt renewed and exuberant.
Talk about love! Talk about romance! Talk about unconditional support from friends and family! What a wonderful, life affirming video this is!
I may not have it ‘all’ yet, but this 6 minute love story has renewed my hope in happier days to come.
(THANK YOU ADVOCATE MAG. FOR SHARING THIS VIDEO. CONGRATS TO MIKE & DAVE ON THEIR ENGAGEMENT!)
The very next day after posting the video above of Mike & Dave getting engaged, The Advocate posted the one below, “Shaun’s Surprise Proposal to Michael.”