By Mickey McClain
“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”
--Harvey Milk. Member San Francisco Board of Supervisors. First openly gay person to be elected to office in California. Assassinated November 27th, 1978. (From a tape recording (1977-11-18) to be played in the event of his assassination. See Wikiquote.)
First, who gets a pass?
Here is who gets a pass: the hundreds of people lined up the morning after the Orlando shooting to give blood, for the victims of the nightmare.
That’s who gets a pass.
Other than that, what I have to say, I have said before, and I suspect, with more panache. Because the second time around never has quite the same magic.
But here goes: I know you feel bad. I feel bad. The whole country feels bad. Any person on the planet who has any compassion for gays, in fact for humanity writ large, feels bad.
But the only question, the only question that matters is what are you going to do about it?
Since 75 percent of you reading this are too busy to volunteer for anything, that answer is nothing. And no, placing the rainbow flag over your stupid Facebook avatar doesn’t do any lasting good. Because while yes, I get a warm and fuzzy feeling from seeing buildings all lit up in Dorothy colors, the fact is, all of that will last for a few brief days, and then three-fourths of us will go back to our self-absorbed lives, spending an appallingly large part of it (20 to 40 hours a week, depending on your age) swimming the waters of the web with our goldfish attention spans. Did you know it’s down by one second, from the last study? We now have attention spans of about eight seconds. Of course, that means I’ve already lost you. Damn.
It is this simple: if you aren’t volunteering, you are doing nothing to ease the suffering of strangers.
And that makes you part of the problem.
Look, if you saw a puppy, injured by a car, right in front of your house, you would do something about it, right? Well, news flash. Millions of animals are suffering right now, as I write this, and there are things you can do about it. Even online things. But 3/4ths of you don’t.
And if you saw an old person wandering in the cold, ambling into your backyard, obviously disoriented and frightened and shivering, wouldn’t you take them by the hand and find out where they belong? Well, you can help that person. Of course, you could also just let him keep wandering, like a Georgia deputy did. Or you could shoot that old person dead, like Joe Hendrix did. But that is another blogpost all together. I suspect that what you would do, is invite them into your home for hot chocolate, and keep calling the authorities until you found out where that sweet old coot belonged. And maybe, just maybe, you would visit him from time to time in the future, because it’s the right thing to do.
And, returning to the victims of Orlando—and a segment of society that faces a seemingly endless barrage of intolerance and hate—if you saw a young gay person, standing on the bridge, ready to jump, because their parents had disowned them, wouldn’t you try to talk them off of the bridge? Of course you would. In fact, if you saw any person ready to jump to their death, you would try to stop them.
Well guess what, you can:
The Trevor Project is just one of a bounty of volunteering opportunities which allows you to help suicidal young people from your own La-Z-Boy. So why don’t you? http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/volunteer
Or you could do your part to help victims of cyber-bullying, even if you are a teenager: http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/org266522.jsp#more_info_tab
Or you could help set up live, streaming events for the LGBTQ community. http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2306085.jsp. And as a person who has lived in some very tiny towns in some very remote places, I can assure you that many of these people, particularly the young people, feel very isolated and afraid.
Or take advantage of your love for snapping pictures. Document the fight. Document the victories. Document the celebration. Document the joy: http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2371077.jsp
About one million children, kicked out of their homes by their parents when they came out as gay, spent last night on the streets, terrified, hungry, and poised to be victims of God knows what unthinkable horrors. They would probably love a warm bath, a hot meal, and in a few months, just about any place that doesn’t drop to below freezing at night. Help them find that safe haven: http://nationalhomeless.org/taking-action/volunteer/
The list of volunteering opportunities is endless.
The LGBT Foundation is looking: http://lgbt.foundation/Take-Action/volunteer-with-the-lgf/our-volunteering-opportunities/
GLAAD is looking: http://www.glaad.org/getinvolved/volunteer
And Matthew Shepard’s mother has, for nearly two decades now, found a way to turn tragedy into action. The Matthew Shepard Foundation is always looking for volunteers: http://www.matthewshepard.org/volunteer/
Or how about this? Since in some horrible countries, their way of dealing with gays is to hurl them from tall buildings perhaps you could consider volunteering for Amnesty International: http://www.amnestyusa.org/get-involved/volunteer-positions-and-resources
So let’s cut to the chase. Millions of you out there could do your part to lessen the pain in the world. But you CHOOSE not to. And that is the operative word. CHOOSE. Every day, every week, every year, you make a CHOICE as to how you should best spend your time. And you CHOOSE to surf the web. When the irony is, more and more opportunities involve just that—you sit in the comfort of your own home, and volunteer online.
But make no mistake. If there is suffering out there, no matter what the cause or who the victim, if you are not doing your part to ease their pain, you are part of the problem. And you can get as angry as me as you want. But you can’t change that awkward, awful, agonizing truth.
Now, as for the puppies and the seniors, and all the countless causes and millions of souls who need your help—well, don’t get me started. That’s for another time.
For now, let’s make it about Orlando. About people who were targeted because of whom they chose to love …
So let’s all decide, shall we?
"When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one." --Written on the tombstone of Leonard Matlovich, gay activist.
MORE READING ON THIS SUBJECT:
MILK IS GOOD FOR YOUR BONES. AND YOUR SOUL.
--The following quotes by Harvey Milk:
“Let's make no mistake about this: The American Dream starts with the neighborhoods. If we wish to rebuild our cities, we must first rebuild our neighborhoods. And to do that, we must understand that the quality of life is more important than the standard of living. To sit on the front steps--whether it's a veranda in a small town or a concrete stoop in a big city--and to talk to our neighborhoods is infinitely more important than to huddle on the living-room lounger and watch a make-believe world in not-quite living color.”
“And I hardly need to tell you that in the 19- or 24-inch view of the world, cleanliness has long since eclipsed godliness. Soon we'll all smell, look, and actually be laboratory clean, as sterile on the inside as on the out. The perfect consumer, surrounded by the latest appliances. The perfect audience, with a ringside seat to almost any event in the world, without smell, without taste, without feel--alone and unhappy in the vast wasteland of our living rooms. I think that what we actually need, of course, is a little more dirt on the seat of our pants as we sit on the front stoop and talk to our neighbors once again, enjoying the type of summer day where the smell of garlic travels slightly faster than the speed of sound.”
“Every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends if indeed they are your friends. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and all. And once you do, you will feel so much better”
“I would like to see every gay doctor come out, every gay lawyer, every gay architect come out, stand up and let that world know. That would do more to end prejudice overnight than anybody would I urge them to do that, urge them to come out. Only that way will we start to achieve our rights.”
“Let me have my tax money go for my protection and not for my prosecution. Let my tax money go for the protection of me. Protect my home, protect my streets, protect my car, protect my life, protect my property...worry about becoming a human being and not about how you can prevent others from enjoying their lives because of your own inability to adjust to life.”
― Harvey Milk
“The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us'es, the us'es will give up. And if you help elect to the central committee and other offices, more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward. It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone. So if there is a message I have to give, it is that if I've found one overriding thing about my personal election, it's the fact that if a gay person can be elected, it's a green light. And you and you and you, you have to give people hope....”
EXCERPT FROM THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW
HANNITY: “Should gay people be stoned to death?”
IMAM ANJEM CHAUDARY: Homosexuality and bestiality, they are your way of life, under the Islamic state, people will not be doing this in the Islamic community, if they do, there will be punishment.”
“The fact is that more people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason. That, that my friends, is true perversion.” --HARVEY MILK
“The other aspect of this tape is the business of what should happen if there is an assassination. I cannot prevent some people from feeling angry and frustrated and mad, but I hope they will take that frustration and that madness and instead of demonstrating or anything of that type, I would hope they would take the power and I would hope that five, ten, one hundred, a thousand would rise. I would like to see every gay doctor come out, every gay lawyer, every gay architect come out, stand up and let that world know. That would do more to end prejudice overnight than anybody would imagine. I urge them to do that, urge them to come out. Only that way will we start to achieve our rights.” (From a tape recording (1977-11-18) to be played in the event of his assassination, quoted in Randy Shilts, The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (1982), pp. 276-277)
“HOPE WILL NEVER BE SILENT.” -Milk