Sharing the vision

By Kerry Lobel, Executive Director, NGLTF

I fly a lot. And although I hate to admit it, my airplane reading is usually found on the racks of airport bookstores. For example, right now I'm reading Tom Clancy's Executive Orders, a story about the devastation of our government as we know it. Last week I read Sandra Brown's, Exclusive, the story of a first lady and a president whose child has mysteriously died. As my mind wanders through these stories' twists and turns, I imagine that I could come up with a better plot line.

Here's my latest premise. The main character is the executive director of San Diego Pride. She's planning for one of the nation's largest pride events including an afternoon parade, an evening rally and two full days of festivals. She's under siege by media from throughout the world. FBI agents and other law enforcement officials swarm around her. She's wondering if an alleged murderer will turn up back home for the event. She's building community. And she's trying to keep perspective while shielding herself from the glare of the country's spotlight.

As the story develops, the alleged murderer takes his own life just days before Pride. Over one-hundred thousand participants attend Pride, a record number. Thanks to hundreds of volunteers, the Pride event ranks as one of the best ever. The executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is there as keynote speaker to mark the momentous event.

Of course, the story is true. And of course, it doesn't have such a tidy ending.

When organizers of San Diego's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered pride celebration chose the slogan, "Share the Vision - Equality through Visibility," little did they know just how much their visibility would be put to the test. As a community, we've been put to the test as well.

We've moved in a few short months from Ellen Morgan to Andrew Cunanan. Many of us expected that a backlash would follow Ellen's coming out, yet few of us could have imagined the degree to which the media would create a new character, the HIV-crazed homosexual prostitute on a murderous rampage.

Ellen was the girl next door. Andrew was America's most wanted criminal suspect. Ellen was the proof that if America knew us, America would love us. Andrew represented our own worst fears and those of America.

The truth is that our visibility comes in many shapes with many stories. And for some of these stories, the spin will be beyond our control. We will continue to work to build the vision and shape the message about our own communities. Our road to equality will be filled with episodes that nurture, attack and challenge us. But there's no turning back and we're in for a wild ride.

©1997 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.