Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Man Harem Inductee #6; 9th Annual Equality Utah Allies Dinner

Dustin Lance Black

This one has been on the docket for a while.  Most of the crushes I’ve shared have been fairly superficial.  This one—at the risk of sounding creepy—goes deeper. 

Since I am a writer (or rather an aspiring one) it’s very easy to get emotionally involved with great writers from a distance—particularly the handsome, strong, activist-types. It’s also important to acknowledge the idea of hero worship here.  His writing is as constructive and powerful as I hope mine will be someday. 


Considering he’s nine years older, I think that' is a genuine possibility.  His work on Big Love and Milk have pushed my writing in some directions I wasn’t really willing to consider years ago with regards to scale and subject matter, so I’ll give him some credit there.  (These projects include some work on the lives of two of the greatest MoHos of all time).

It’s not all about the writing, though.  I’ve overcome a lot in my life with regards to being shy and putting up barriers—barriers that have kept me from being as open (or “out”) as I’d genuinely like to be.  Last night I found another piece of encouragement along those lines.  It’s not often a man harem pick gives a call to action, and let me tell you something: a cute guy encouraging you to be a happier, healthier person making a difference in the life of others is hot.


I did get a chance to introduce myself—knees shaking—and say to him last night at the Equality Utah Allies Dinner, “I’m a real fan of your writing.” He joked that my hair made him feel short and we took a picture.  (Expect to see that soon, FB friends). 


To end, though, I’ll share some highlights from the meeting (some very inspirational topics which Dustin Lance Black and so many other great women stand for):


The night was a collision of sorts for me.  So many worlds, groups, and experiences comingling to form a night of  motivation.  Everyone I spoke to left with the drive to make a difference and prove ourselves as the good and loving people we are.  People will think what they will, but actions speak louder than any words including those of supposed biblical condemnation.

Not long ago, I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting down to dinner with Gary & Millie Watts, proponents of Family Fellowship.  That experience was wonderful in its simplicity and the significance of breaking bread with one’s neighbors and family. 

DSCN1657Last night they shared some kind words and family experiences that provide the hope so many of us need.  Probably the most touching moment of the night was hearing the words of their son in a letter from 1997.  Recently excommunicated, he said to his parents, “Thank you for not leaving me out” as he reflected on the tears of his mother—not tears of disappointment over some construct of worthiness but tears of frustration for her son being turned away.

They have come a long way from thinking their son was the only homosexual to making their son’s life and the lives of thousands of other LGBT individuals “a path of love, honesty, and friends—a family path.”  

The theme of family permeated the night as the next pair of award recipients, Jane & Tami Marquardt, pointed out a very interesting and incredibly loving aspect of their lives (one I think should be shared by all).  “We have two families: our family of origin and our family of choice.”

DSCN1662I left very thankful for those words in particular.  So much is given to us at our birth, but regardless of our circumstances, we bring the best people close to us to preserve each other and to commune with them. 

This is what so many organizations concerned with protecting families have wrong.  While we many times accuse them of espousing hate, their real and true crime is destroying love—destroying love that inspires us to leave messages daily for our same-sex partner like “Hey gorgeous.  How’s your day going?”, love that inspires us to serve our communities, and love that transcends labels like “sinner,” love inspiring us to do more than tolerate or accept difference.

Dustin Lance Black’s keynote speech was particularly inspiring.  So often, activism comes off as in-your-face or counter-revolutionary.  In many ways it’s made several people I know cautious of being visible—the ones who’d rather not be associated with shouting matches and shutting down traffic.  Activism has also taken on forms of violence and passive resistance, but none of these images have really fit my vision of who I am. 

After sharing his story (realizing his homosexuality early on in a conservative religion and state later saving himself from self-hate and powerlessness through the redemptive words of Harvey Milk), Black presented a different vision of activism placing emphasis on visibility.

DSCN1674“It is time for every single on e of you to come out,” he declared.  “Think outreach.  Go out there and do good.  Put on your rainbow flags and buttons and make sure people know who you are,” he said.  That, more than anything else, will change the hearts and minds of the people. 

“Visibility is the challenge of this movement.  People fear what is unknown and different,” he said, offering his solution.  “This is why it is imperative we pass all-inclusive anti-discrimination protections in housing and employment.  There are more progressive places that don’t have these protections, but things are happening here in Utah.

“Some people say ‘As California goes, so goes the nation,’ but if we in Utah can show our country where Utah is going (citing the non-discrimination legislation now protecting 650,000 individuals in Utah) we will show them all,especially those who have dismissed us, and as Utah goes, so will this nation.”

I left proud to be a part of the fight in Utah and ready to commit more to the causes of love, equality, and family.  May we all share such a vision of our present and our future and do the good this world needs to truly embody these principles.


Other highlights that didn’t quite make it into this summary:

Jane & Tami Marquardt:
“Love deserves respect”
“Behind every great powerdyke there is often a loving and supportive Barbiedyke.”

Dustin Lance Black:
“It’s interesting coming to Utah sometimes.  Look at all of these clean cut young men growing up with appreciation for musicals and ballroom dancing.  How do you know anybody’s gay?!”
Bouncing off of a narrative line about not having the courage to bear testimony as a kid he bore testimony last night:
“I love who I am, cannot change and wouldn’t change.”
”We are blessed with an outsider’s perspective.” 
“We are an important people.” 


Biki Honko said...

Lovely post, but am curious as two who you are referring to when you said, "Two of the greatest MoHos of all time."

I love that quote, "We are an important people."

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

I can share one because I'm afraid of my other idea might get stolen.

I can say that one project revolves around the life of lesbian Mormon poet May Swenson.

ryryham said...

At this rate, DLB may end up praising YOUR writing. You just keep getting better.

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