BY Kerry Eleveld
October 11 2009 5:00 PM ET
David Mixner, who originally called for the National Equality March,
gave a barn-burner of a speech that reflected the three decades of wisdom
he's gathered as an LGBT activist.
My name is David Mixner, and I am a gay man.
They told me that you didn’t care and you wouldn’t come. This is the first step and you stand on the shoulders of giants.
You stand on the shoulders of those who had forced lobotomies because they were homosexual. You stand on the shoulders of the tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters who could not march with us today because they died of AIDS. You stand on the shoulders of all the people like Matthew Shepard, the thousands who have been beaten to death or disabled by senseless violence. We must honor them. We must honor them by our action and our words.
Now here is what’s at stake -- Let us be clear to Americans, we are looking at a system of gay apartheid. One set of laws for LGBT citizens and another set of laws for the rest of America -- Oh, no you don’t!
The president asked us to help him, and help him we will. On “don’t ask, don’t tell,” we elected him to be president not to be led by Congress but to lead Congress. So let us help you find your way. Today, in your office, cut off all funding for prosecuting our soldiers. Tomorrow when you walk into your Oval Office, issue a stop-loss order.
And then Mr. President, you will have the moral authority and we will be behind your back to make sure Congress repeals “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
And to Nancy Pelosi and to Harry Reid, and to our beloved president, let us not forget these words, Maine and Washington, we urge your support in defeating the bigotry of the ballot initiatives in those states and we want it now.
To allow, to allow Americans to vote on our rights, to choose whether we can be free human beings. Let us be clear to people, they can’t take away our freedom -- we already have it as a people, it is ours, we are free. And we are going to fight … [inaudible].
I too have contemplated suicide.
I had to go tell my dying lover -- who was dying of AIDS -- that his parents wouldn’t see him before he died.
I had to hold someone in my arms who was dismissed from the military -- and I’m a pacifist -- hold him in my arms as he wept as his career was destroyed and his dream was trampled.
I had to help people find work as they left their jobs because their work environment was so bad because of their sexuality.
When people tell me to be patient, when people tell me, "Oh lord, not now," all I can think about is how many more tears must be shed so some politicians in a back room can figure out when it’s convenient to join us and to fight for our freedom.
I promise you this, as Tennyson says in Ulysses, “My eyes are tired from seeing an unchanging world.”
I promise you this, you today have given me new hope. You have [inaudible] this tired body with energy and I promise you on my life that if you fill the jails, if you work those congressional districts, I will be able to stand before you again and say, My name is David Mixner. I am a gay man, and I am free.