Scott and I were best friends growing up together in our small, Southern hometown. I told him I was gay soon after we graduated from college. Scott's reaction: "I was wondering when you were going to get around to figuring that out for yourself."
Scott is fiercely heterosexual. When I told him of my gayness in 1983, I wasn't really surprised by his reaction to the news. We'd known each other for years and I knew well Scott's "live and let live" personal style. But way back in 1983, we knew we were about to embark on distinctly different voyages and that we would grow apart quickly. We did.
Earlier this year, I called Scott and we did some catching up. Scott is happily married with children. He's a vice-president in the banking industry and has two German sedans in his garage. I told him that I had joined the Board of Directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and was spending many weekends traveling to Pride Events these days. We laughed heartily about how different our lives are from each other and we reminded ourselves about how strongly driven both of us have always been.
We howled with laughter when I asked Scott if he now has a white picket fence. As kids we used to joke about how omnipresent and how non-functional those fences were. To us then, white picket fences were metaphors for small town Southern life and the closed, narrow minds that so frequently dwelled inside them. Scott admitted that his new house does in fact have a white picket fence.
Scott went on to tell me that he feels as strongly about gay and lesbian equal rights as he ever has. We talked some about how he might react if one of his children is gay or bisexual. As Scott offered to me, his white picket fence doesn't mean the same thing as we thought those fences meant in our hometown.
But there's another metaphor to consider about picket fences. Scott is a supporter of equal rights for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered people. Scott won't participate in discussion groups about homophobia; he won't join the HRC or NGLTF; he'd probably be willing to attend a Pride Event with me if I asked, but he'd not think seriously about doing so otherwise.
What Scott wants and needs is a connection to the gay/lesbian/bi movement in this country. He needs information. The information he needs should be current and it needs to clearly articulate injustice, legal issues and moral issues which impact the g/l/b/t community. In my opinion, Scott and the hundreds of thousands like him should be embraced by our g/l/b/t movement for liberation and justice.
That's one of the reasons I'm so excited about And Justice for All.
At the heart of And Justice for All (AJA) is the core belief that many thinking heterosexuals support the notion that we should all enjoy equal rights and equal protection under the law regardless of our sexual orientation. The challenge AJA has identified and accepted is one which hinges on attracting and maintaining the involvement of more heterosexuals; on getting them involved in the movement for equal rights early in their lives; on keeping them informed about g/l/b/t issues; and on building stronger ties between the g/l/b/t and straight communities.
And Justice for All will focus its organizing efforts via visibility at public events, by organizing in support of equal rights on college campuses, and by using the Internet as a primary point of information sharing and strategic planning.
And Justice for All brings a fresh voice to the ways in which all of us can work together to change the way the world works. AJA provides a valuable alternative to the closing of minds--to "the white picket fence." It allows our heterosexual brothers and sisters to experience our movement for equal rights on their own terms and under their own direction.
We need more allies...we need more support from the heterosexual community. I believe And Justice for All can and will help build that support and maintain it through the years. Few things could be more important to the g/l/b/t community or to the cause of equal rights for all!