OK Boys and Girls, and Everyone in between…
What makes an activist? Is it a fierce anger that drives them?
Is it hatred for the status quo that has allowed what they deem as a travesty to occur? Is it sadness for the loss of a loved one in the process of protesting or celebrating a moment in social justice history?
Yes. To all of the above and more. Let me relate a short example from my own life.
When the Original STONEWALL RIOTS happened, I was a fresh faced ALMOST teen of 12 years old. I was NOT a virgin. I had been having “sex” with boys for a couple of years by that point and knew inside me that (1) This was a Major part of who I was and (2) This was something that people would hurt me for, if they found out. [ Editors Note – Remember, this happened in 1969.] We didn’t KNOW about being in the closet because we so far in it we couldn’t see the door.
Then I heard news on the radio and reports on Television of a Police raid on the Stone Wall Inn, in Greenwich Village in NYC. It was July 30th, 1969. The police had arrested homosexuals who were patronizing the Stone Wall Inn and were naming them in the newspapers to shame them. Even at that age, I understood what was going on. Police, for whatever reason, were hurting PEOPLE LIKE ME, for Being people like me. (I Still couldn’t name myself as a homo at that time). I heard that many of these homosexuals were fighting back, some of them being injured rather severely by the police. I WANTED TO BE THERE. I wanted to fight back against what I saw as wrong behaviour by the police.
This was the day the activist in ME was born. I made a silent pledge to myself that from this moment forward I would stand up, IN SOME WAY, for other “homos” like myself.
Fast forward 44 years. I am standing in front of the Reflecting pool at the NY State Fair grounds. about to marry the man I have loved for more than 30 years. We will be LEGALLY Married, Equal in all aspects (or at least 2000+ ways more than the day before) to our heterosexual friends, and it dawned on me. THIS IS A MOMENT OF ACTIVISM! I am marrying my fiance, IN PUBLIC, in front of witness’s I know and do NOT know. That was my first REAL moment of Social Justice activism as a gay man.
It was LIBERATING! It was TERRIFYING! It changed my whole world view.
Now I run an online theatre company that does audio books and plays about Gay, Lesbian, Transgener, Bisexual youth and young adults. We do not stereotype them. They are now the comic second banana’s. They are the stars. They have the adventures aided by their straight friends. And People Listen. They learn that GLTB+ people are the same as they are.
What maked an Activist? Many, many things. But you will know you are an activist in your own time and space.
Just my two cents for today.