We’re not big on serendipity here at Queerty, but as we honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, it’s interesting to note that 2013 is the 50th anniversary of King’s iconic I Have a Dream speech.
Also today, the nation’s first African-American is being publicly sworn in as president for the second time.
The election—and re-election—of Barack Obama is a testament to King’s vision that his children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
There’s much in I Have a Dream for the LGBT community to embrace: the call not give in to “the tranquilizing drug of gradualism,” to conduct ourselves “on the high plane of dignity and discipline” and to meet slurs and physical force “with soul force.”
And it’s not coincidence that many in the black community have embraced our struggle: African-Americans support same-sex marriage 57% to 31%, a higher percentage than in the general population.
Of course, thinking of Dr. King, we’re reminded of another civil-rights pioneer who was cut down far too soon: 2013 also marks the 35th anniversary of Harvey Milk’s “Hope Speech.”
Though it’s a little less poetic, Milk’s oratory was just as much about a dream, one of LGBT participation in the political process.
Like every other group, we must be judged by our leaders and by those who are themselves gay, those who are visible. For invisible, we remain in limbo — a myth, a person with no parents, no brothers, no sisters, no friends who are straight, no important positions in employment. A tenth of the nation, supposedly composed of stereotypes and would-be seducers of children — and no offense meant to the stereotypes.
But today, the black community is not judged by its friends, but by its black legislators and leaders. And we must give people the chance to judge us by our leaders and legislators. A gay person in office can set a tone, can command respect not only from the larger community, but from the young people in our own community who need both examples and hope.
The first gay people we elect must be strong. They must not be content to sit in the back of the bus. They must not be content to accept pablum. They must be above wheeling and dealing. They must be — for the good of all of us — independent, unbought. The anger and the frustrations that some of us feel is because we are misunderstood, and friends can’t feel the anger and frustration. They can sense it in us, but they can’t feel it. Because a friend has never gone through what is known as coming out. I will never forget what it was like coming out and having nobody to look up toward. I remember the lack of hope — and our friends can’t fulfill it.”
We don’t think America is quite ready for an openly gay president in 2016, but for the first time it feels like that day is coming.