Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gay of the Day Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman is the father of free verse and is a renowned poet. He is most famous for the collection of poems "Leaves of Grass" that when published was considered a scandal due to it's overt sexuality. He was also a humanist, essayist, and journalist throughout his life. It is always up for contention as to the fact of Whitman being gay or bi-sexual but I think that has more to do with society than Whitman himself.
In fact the moment I sat down to choose Walt Whitman as my Gay of the Day I realized just how hard of a task I had set myself. Choose a gay every day and write about them. Just to remind people of our heritage and to help over come the burden of shame that is ever placed upon our community. So I go and do research to find out who is gay and who isn't. I mean aside from Gertrude Stein so far the people I have researched all have this "question" as to the exact nature of their sexuality. There are always people saying that it isn't true that so and so is gay. That is just the gays trying to make everyone gay. What is so wrong with being gay? Why is it that historians try and hide this fact and argue against it being an acceptable fact? Really the only reason I am looking for gay hero's through the ages is because of these very people who want to deny our heritage and criminalize our love. It is the very suppression of our culture and our worth as humans that makes it so important to claim these heros and icons as our own.
Walt Whitman was a great man with ideas that have pushed the boundaries of societies understanding and reason. That sounds like a very gay trait to me. We as a people are always on the for front of thought and expansion.  It usually is the people with the least to loose that allow them selves the opportunity to find the best in themselves and promote it through a medium and share the process of self liberation. Coming out is an arduous process still today. How many families say "Awesome just what we wanted a lesbian daughter!" or " A totally fem son?" Not very many. Even the fact that the most liberal of families feel the pinch of shame before coming around shows the shame placed on gay and lesbian people from the start. It is this very shame is what allows the powers that be to rob us of our past and our heros and our birth rights. 
This brings me to my own struggle to write every day. To commit to the task of putting fingers to keyboard and writing about some luminary gay icon like Walt Whitman.  I have missed two days already and it has barely been a week. This struggle to just commit to a few paragraphs every day, to have some discipline, to share our greatness with my community touches a real nerve for me. Why is it so important? Why do I care? I'm not getting paid and certainly no one is going to call me and say "Wheres my gay of the day?" So why is it so important.
Well my answer is ; commitment is very important right now. My activism is really about marriage and if it is an option for gay men and women or isn't. It's about seeing that we as a people are granted equality. We are not second class people and this is a clear human rights issue and yet even the "liberals" choose to treat us as a moral issue. I say fuck your morals then if you can't see me as human. Didn't we fight in the 70's to.... Oh wait there lies our problem as a community.
Instead of being radical thinkers and making our dream reality we chose financial pandering and ghettoization. We have porn companies and bit parts on major networks and even our own neighborhoods. If we stay where we are supposed to be and don't confront anyone then we can have a fairly safe life without too much hassle. We can buy cars and be best friends and in some states marry and adopt children. Yes this is all great news but there is one question that still bothers me. Why are we not granted equality? Why are we too risky politically to stand behind? Why can we not as a community demand that these rights be given to us because EVERYONE deserves human rights? Why as a community can we not commit to the task of getting these rights grated to every other peoples?
 We don't care if your religion agrees with us because WE don't agree with your bigotry but WE don't want to take away your rights. We don't care if you think we are immoral because you bigotry is far more immoral than WE will ever be! Your forcing shame upon us is not a moral issue for us it is your moral issue. So why have WE not done something for ourselves?
Advertising is not enough! Why are we not able to commit every day to celebrating our people and gaining our rights? Why with people like Walt Whitman and visionaries and leaders and shaman and poets and painters that are the most celebrated in the world are we not having our rights right now? Why are we so steeped in shame that we are afraid to upset people? We are the ones who should be upset. Our commitment is so weak that the minute we started to move forward we stopped the second they waved shiny objects in front of our faces.
It is not enough to be able to shop! Why have we not shown up every day and said "That is not enough!"? This kind of commitment is what I am asking from myself with this blog and hopefully my life. I want us as a people to cast off our shame and to make people realize that they can not treat us this way. We are Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Harvey Milk, Abraham Lincoln, Lilly Tomlin, Socratese, and so many more people that have given more than enough to celebrate our worth and we are not going to settle anymore!
We should be taking daily action every day to better our standard of acceptance. We will bash back if need be because there is no reason for us to take these beating to begin with! We are not incapable of standing up and casting off this shame and we are going to do it every day until we are standing on the same rights and protections as everyone else. None of us are ever going to make the people who don't like us like us, but we can show them that how they treat us is wrong because we are a great people and they should thank us for who we are.
That is why when I sat down to write about my Gay of the Day Walt Whitman I struggled. I allowed myself to skip my commitment for yesterday. It may not seem such a big thing but when you take a day off there are always chances that the next day will be missed and then my rights are TAKEN away by the same people who granted them to me only six months before because there are more bigots in the state of California than there are rational people who see that everyone IS equal. It is because we as a people have stopped caring about ourselves and settled for half the solution instead of our full rights. We let shame and fear oppress us. We as a people  every day condone our own suffering because of our lack of commitment.
That is why it bothered me to miss even one day of my commitment. I need to remind myself every day before I go out into the world that I am part of a strong and great people and what others think is their business. I will not take their shame on. We will not take their shame on. We belong to the Walt Whitmans of the world. We are the generators of beauty and thought and we should congratulate ourselves every day on our achievements under such harsh treatment. Also we must remind ourselves daily that this fight is on and not to get distracted or discouraged. Instead to be our very own gay of the day and take the next step twords equality and our national rights and acceptance.

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