Individual’s personal tragedies could be community’s progress

Posted on 08 Mar 2007 at 7:15pm
By Leslie Robinson – General Gayety

The murder of an elderly gay man in Michigan, a gay Marine’s war wounds, a transgender person losing a job could prompt change

Civil-rights movements are messy and perverse. The GLBT movement will progress in part because of the recent sufferings of individuals. That makes me feel a little like a cannibal.

Take the ghastly case of Detroit’s Andrew Anthos, who was singing as he rode the bus from the public library to his apartment one evening. An annoyed passenger asked him if he was gay. After Anthos, 72, left the bus, the other passenger, spitting gay slurs, whacked him in the back of the head with a metal pipe.

Anthos died 10 days later.

Needless to say, he wasn’t killed for singing off-key. This was a clear hate crime.

Politicians in the state capital of Lansing knew Anthos, not as a wild-eyed gay activist, but as a wild-eyed patriot. For years he’d advocated lighting up the Michigan State Capitol dome in red, white and blue on one night a year.
Well, everybody has a passion.

I have to believe the cruel death of this senior citizen has opened a few eyes and softened a few hearts in Michigan. Which means Warning: Crassness ahead it’s time to strike while the emotions are hot.

A state senator has promised to reintroduce a bill including sexual orientation in the state’s hate crimes law immediately.

Andrew Anthos is a reminder that any individual can have a positive impact on GLBT rights. Even if that person had no such plan.

Former Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva knows a lot about suffering.

He and his leg parted company after he stepped on a land mine in the Iraq War’s earliest days.

He received a Purple Heart and hospital visits from President Bush and then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. I hope those two politicos were shocked to their wingtips to see Alva at a recent Capitol Hill news conference announcing, “Who would have ever guessed that the first American wounded was a gay Marine?”

That day in D.C., Alva called for “Don’t ask, don’t tell” to lose its legal legs, and Rep. Marty Meehan reintroduced legislation authorizing the amputation.
Alva said losing his leg induced him to come out. “It made me realize everything that I had to actually speak up for,” he told ABC News, “basically, the rights and privileges of what I as an individual have earned in this country.”

Alva’s loss is our gain. I don’t mean some gay person is toting his leg around. I mean the experience crystallized things for him. He found the courage to come out, and to fight another battle.

A Latino Marine from a military family in Bush’s home state, Alva couldn’t be better advertising for the cause of defeating “Don’t ask.” We’re using him to budge GLBT rights forward and that’s hunky-dory with him.

Thanks to people like Steve Stanton of Largo, Fla., the day will come when transgender folks can transition without fear of losing everything. That may not provide Stanton any comfort right now, as he’s rather busy being chewed up and spat out.

Stanton has ably served as Largo’s city manager for 14 years. Less than a week after he disclosed his intention to undergo sex reassignment surgery, city commissioners voted to begin the process of firing him.

Who says government can’t move fast?

“I do not feel he has the integrity, nor the trust, nor the respect, nor the confidence to continue as the city manager,” said one commissioner.
You’d never guess Largo’s slogan is “City of Progress.”

“It’s just painful to know seven days ago I was a good guy and now I have no integrity,” said Stanton to the commissioners.

Considering all the turmoil he’s facing, I should at least do Stanton the courtesy of addressing him properly:

Good luck, girlfriend.

Read more of Leslie Robinson’s columns at www.GeneralGayety.com
E-mail LesRobinsn@aol.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 2, 2007

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