Sunday, May 27, 2012
Comments at the Third Annual Harvey Milk March and Rally
I stand before the doors of this grand temple to democracy today; these doors I have walked through more times than I can count; these doors whose creek and polish have welcomed me time and time again and I say to you:
You don’t know the power you have.
Next January 8th the people who work behind those doors will return to begin making decisions that affect your lives.
You have the power to turn their minds towards the path of equality.
You have the power to tell them, face to face, your story of how inequality affects you and the ones you love.
You have the power to carry with you the spirits of those we’ve lost: to disease, to violent hatred, to the self-hate generated by a society that over and over again tells our children that they are not acceptable.
Over the next seven months most of the people who work behind those doors will not hear from a single constituent about our state’s continued systemic enmity towards queer people.
I’m going to say that again: most of the people who work behind those doors never hear from their constituents about queer issues.
We, gathered here today, at the doors of this grand temple to democracy, have the power to change that.
We have the power to tell those nestled in the seats of privilege the stories of our vibrant, varied community,
We have the power to speak for ourselves, to speak for the silenced and to speak for those just finding their voices and to say with a loud clear voice “I am here, and you are hurting me.”
One of the things Harvey taught us is the importance of coming out. He knew that it is harder for everyday people to hate us when they know us.
Well... the people who work behind those doors are everyday people, and it is harder for them to hate us if they know us.
So it is not enough to come out to your parents.
It is not enough to come out to your employer.
It is not enough to come out to your dog walker, your green grocer or your barber...
You must, you must, you must come out to your lawmaker!
In the days of Harvey Milk, the rallying cry was “out of the bars and into the streets.” On this day, on this day just over 82 years since Harvey’s birth, I propose a new rallying cry:
Out of the bars and through those doors; and
Off of grindr and into the workplace; and
out of the closet and into the classroom; and
off of facebook and onto the phones; and
off of twitter and into the voting booth; and
back into the bars to pick-up reinforcements; and
never give up; and
never shut up; and
never, ever stop hoping
because you have more power than you know;
and together, together we can harness that power to tell the people who work behind those doors about our lives, our stories, our Texas;
and that is how we win.