An Activist Reflects
BY Michelle Garcia
April 12 2010 6:20 PM ET
I was really in bad shape. I had a nervous breakdown. I almost became paralyzed. I couldn’t believe what happened to my life. One day I was at a cocktail party and someone who I had helped become powerful politically was there. He didn’t know I was behind him. And I heard him say, “David Mixner is finished. He’s washed up. He’s a faggot.” And that’s all it took. I got angry instead of being a victim and I said, “I’ll show you, you fucker.” And the one thing I knew was that a politician would sell their mother into slavery for money and so that’s when we started the PAC. And I was right.
A lot of the young people involved with the Point Foundation probably see you as an influence in their lives in a lot of different aspects.
I have a very special relationship with the Point Scholars. I addressed them three times at the summer conference and I’ve gone to their events and I just think they’re the most remarkable group of young people I’ve ever met in my life. Anyone who’s going to be in that room that night, the nice thing about honoring someone like me, this is what counts. I’m glad to be validated for 50 years of service, I’m flattered and honored, but it’s a nice thing. What counts is, a lot of people who have had no exposure are coming in that room that night for me — politicians, wealthy people straight and gay, because they know me and they want to be there that night, which is very nice. What I’m excited about is they’re going to hear these young Point Scholars speak and they’re going to hear about the kid in Texas who in his junior year in high school was kicked out of his home, lived in his car, so he could finish high school, in a park and went on to Harvard. Or when Herb Hampshire went over to Presbyterian Hospital the other day and one of the doctors in the emergency room was a Point Scholar, and so this is one of the most remarkable programs I know. It’s taking our dispossessed and perilous and making them gifts to this planet.
Who do you see as some people who are your personal influences as far as activism or politically?
My heroes are Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet; [Nelson] Mandela, who of course is everyone’s hero, but mine too. Martin Luther King, John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Teddy Kennedy. My whole life has been impacted by the Kennedys. Teddy Kennedy was a friend. Vicki Kennedy is giving me the award that night, this will be her first social appearance since [Ted’s] death. It’s a big deal.
How did that come about?
I was talking to her and was telling her about it, and we got around to who was going to present it. She was my first choice, but given the situation, I didn’t know if she was going to be ready to make that sort of appearance, red carpet social-type thing. She basically said to me, “If I have to get up out of my bed and take the pillow off of my head, I will be there that night to give you that award because Teddy would’ve liked to have given you that award.”
You have 50 years of activism under your belt. Looking forward, what is something you’re looking forward to?
Seeing this Prop. 8 generation glow and blossom. I think it’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to our movement since the ’92 convention. I think it’s a turning point, I think they are brilliant. Do you know how many young people I’ve had come in and talk to me? You sort of become the wise man. I haven’t seen this since the civil rights movement of the ’60s. This is without a doubt the most exciting development within the last two decades for our community.
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