LGBT voices needs to be heard at the polls

Posted on 06 Jan 2006 at 4:24am

Do this one little thing. This quick, scary, and liberating thing.
Get out and vote, because change doesn’t happen by itself.

We know that until recently only half of the LGBT community voted and, across America, millions of us hadn’t even registered to vote. But, because we will no longer be taught to care and then act as though we do not care, because we will never not ever be taught to sit still, we will vote.



Because we play by the rules, pay taxes, and still get murdered with no justice in sight in this city;

Because we Texans are proud but pay among the worst insurance and electricity rates, suffer one in five of our children to live uninsured and in poverty, and breathe some of the very worst air of all 50 states;

Because we recently got our country to let us enjoy consensual sex, but now the ruling party feigns family values and the sanctity of life while turning a blind eye to the sexual predation on children by one of its own congressmen

We vote.

We know that until recently only half of the LGBT community voted and, across America, millions of us hadn’t even registered to vote. But, because we will no longer be taught to care and then act as though we do not care, because we will never not ever be taught to sit still, we will vote.

Because we pray for those who chose and oppose;

Because there is no time to rejoice for those who walk among the noise and deny the voice.

Because the lost heart stiffens and rejoices, and the weak spirit quickens to rebel

We vote.

Latinos, the young and gays are registering in record numbers across America now. Independents and Republicans are becoming Democrats, not because they are liberal but because they are moderate, because our Republican rulers in the Congress, Senate and White House are a radical, dangerous fringe. Moderate, centrist America has awoken and will try to vote our country back on the right track on Nov. 7.

Care, don’t say you care. Act, don’t say you will. Fight, for that is the only way rights have ever been won in America and the only way America has ever been set right.

Become part of this great wave sweeping America clean of wars that make us less safe and counterfeit values that make each one of us poorer and less free and less united.

Suffer us not to be separated, but to join farmers and generals, drivers and teachers, suburbanites and socialites in giving America its great promise back.

There is a voter registration card in the copy of Dallas Voice you are reading.

The card must be received by County Elections (Suite 820, 2377 North Stemmons, between Wycliffe and Motor) before 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, so complete it and mail it today.

There is no Internet registration in Dallas.

If you are too late in registering to vote in the Nov. 7 election, register anyway; voting is the only way the American people rule in America.

If you are already registered, register a friend today. Do this little thing this quick, scary and liberating thing.

If you live in Dallas County, you address the registration card by filling in “Dallas” as the city and “75207″ as the zip, after completing the registration form on the back side of the card.

If you live in another county, go to www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/votregduties.shtml for help addressing or completing the card.

Because we celebrate the editor who spent his life inking the integrity of a newspaper whose voice is now respected by gays and straights alike;

Because we sit and wait too often but will never again sit back when evil is done to us;

Because we have learned that we have not only the right but the responsibility to make our voices heard in this Dallas, this Texas, this American experience;

Because we have paid our dues and shed our innocent blood and still move forward

We vote.

And let our cry come unto America. Let our voice take is rightful place in the American chorus.

(Written with all due credit to T.S. Eliot and his poem, “Ash Wednesday,” which I have quoted liberally throughout this article.)

E-mail RichardLeggio@aol.com

Spirit of the community shines through at annual LifeWalk

Walk-a-thon event benefiting AIDS service organizations is a testament to how far the LGBT community has come in such short a time

Sometimes it feels good just to walk; it can even feel euphoric. Walking for AIDS may not instill the vociferous urgency it did back in ’91, when Dallas’ LifeWalk began. But its spirit of community is ebullient as ever, and the joy of its participants a revelation to behold last Sunday a testament to how very far we’ve come in so breathtakingly short a time.

The word “miraculous” wasn’t just hyperbole in Lee Park Sunday. Smiles, true elation, even, lighted the faces of the crowd.

The sunny beauty of the day reflected this new hopefulness everywhere. As Tim Curry sang so poignantly in his “Rocky Horror Picture Show” swan song, “I see blue skies through the tears in my eyes.”

The skies over Lee Park on Sunday could not have been bluer. Gone permanently were the joyless, hollowed eyes of marches past. The mood Sunday was buoyant, the energy confident.

Two sandwich boards were stationed along the route as subtle reminders of the hard, dark road traveled for so long. One said simply, “Every month, 75 new people in Dallas get diagnosed with AIDS.” The other read, “The cases of AIDS among gay men are on the rise again.”

But mostly, there was optimism. Even the T-shirts given out at registration were bright: “Celebrate Life. Walk.” A colorful, psychedelic artwork collage featuring soaring birds, fluttering butterflies, twinkling stars, dancing musical notes, flowers in bloom and people enjoying life perfectly captured (in breathable cotton!) the resurgent mood.

Overheard at the registration tent was this summing-up statement: “When I did the walk years ago, it was led by people with AIDS, and they all looked like they were at death’s door lots of canes, wheelchairs. You don’t see that today. It could be that they all stayed home, but I like to hope the treatments are so much better today that people are largely living normal lives.”

We’ve come a long way in the 25 years since before the “gay cancer” had a name, and have made leaps and bounds in the past 10 years alone.

What was still once an absolute death sentence is now a treatable, chronic illness.

“Normalcy” seemed to be the reigning theme of the walk. Were it not for the shirts marked “AIDS Arms LifeWalk 2006,” one could have inserted any worthy cause diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer onto the diverse, gathered crowd. Among the thousands in attendance, fully half were female; of the men, half of those seemed to be heterosexual (or perhaps I’ve just completely lost my gaydar).

In any case, the true surprise was just how many straight Frisbee-throwing, chick-cruising straight teenage boys there were. Has the cause of AIDS at last broken down that last resistant bastion of stigma: Teenage peer pressure? Has total, ordinary acceptance at last filtered all the way down to . . . cool?

Resoundingly, the answer is yes.

Despite the 95-degree heat, ordinariness in all its refreshment was the true talk of the day. Conversations among the 16th annual LifeWalk participants ranged in everything from dieting to the dearth of good movies lately, to whom does Tom Cruise thinks he’s fooling, to the merits of White Castle versus Krystal.

Normal conversations, in other words.

At last, on a walk for AIDS on a lovely Sunday afternoon, people were finally, after all these years, having normal conversations. It was something to celebrate.

“To keep some good space in there makes a little bit more sense to me.”
City Council member Angela Hunt about the proximity of anti-gay protesters to gay Pride parade participants

“It is reprehensible that they are fanning the flames of anti-gay bigotry with despicable and dishonest charges that have long been discredited.”
Ralph G. Neas, president, People for the American Way, on anti-gay rhetoric connected to the Mark Foley scandal

“I think that sends a pretty clear message where they line up in terms of issues important to the GLBT community”
Chris Bell, Democratic Party candidate for governor, about his opponent’s stances

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 6, 2006.

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