By Chad Graham
Originally published on Advocate.com March 16 2005 1:00 AM ET
A few years ago, I was sent by my newspaper editor to interview Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York. She had flown into Des Moines for a press junket in her role as celebrity spokeswoman for Weight Watchers. She was surprisingly gorgeous, and those dumpy pictures of her in the pastel-colored dresses from the 1980s were immediately erased from my memory.How’d she get so in shape? I suspected a little lipo. Ever the walking advertisement, Fergie explained that she’d lost the pounds through the Weight Watchers program that assigns points to various foods. As dieters eat throughout the day, they simply crosses off points until they reach zero. Foods like pizza have more points than foods like an orange.I thought of Fergie last week when the Human Rights Campaign announced it had hired a new president. Joe Solmonese is promising to immediately hit the road when he starts his job April 11 and reintroduce gay people back to America.For those of us who don’t have the HRC’s power to call a press conference, there are still a million ways every day to give ourselves a voice in straight America. Those moments always seem to arrive at unexpected times: a split-second pause in the office break room to talk up the fabulous weekend you and your partner had, someone using “fag” in casual conversation, a family dinner when grandma starts singing the praises of Focus on the Family.The gay rights movement should take a cue from Fergie. All those national groups in Washington should come up with an equality points chart for GLBT Americans. Instead of food, we’d assign points to moments in which we’ve made a small, unexpected advance for equality. What’s our reward? Stopping right-wing lawmakers who are currently screwing with our lives by trying to pass anti–gay marriage laws or restrict adoption rights.5 POINTS: Proudly holding hands with your partner in the grocery story and not arguing about fat-free versus low-carb salad dressing15 POINTS: Inviting the entire office to a special Friday happy hour at the local gay bar20 POINTS: They actually show up30 POINTS: Convince your parents to attend a PFLAG meeting and admit that they are your parents40–50 POINTS: Convince your employer to institute domestic-partner benefits60 POINTS: Convince your employer to stop donating money to bigoted, antigay politicians—especially the ones who frequent the well-known local cruising spotLIFETIME POINTS, PERMANENTLY EXCUSED FROM EVER DOING ANYTHING FOR EQUALITY: Karl Rove agrees to throw you and your partner a wedding shower on Cape Cod. Jerry Falwell provides the entertainment dressed as Buster the Bunny and makes balloon animals for the children of lesbian couples.Yesterday, I was on a commuter train heading home when one of those nice little old ladies tapped me on the arm as I flipped through an issue of The Advocate.“Was that Lily Tomlin you were reading about?” she asked.“Yeah,” I answered, wondering what she thought of ad with the hot gay couple on a cruise.“I haven’t read anything on her in years and I’m a big fan,” the woman said. “Where can I get a copy of that magazine?”“They sell them at Barnes & Noble,” I replied, handing her my copy. “Here, you can have this one.”“Oh, really?” she asked with a smile. “Are you sure?”I nodded yes and she tucked it into her carryall bag. We continued to talk about celebrities and movies. She was a big fan of The Passion of the Christ, but hadn’t seen anything else in the past year with “all that sex and profanity coming out of Hollywood these days.”She’d no doubt be in for a shock opening a homosexual magazine, let alone finding out that Lily Tomlin is a lesbian. I kept my mouth shut and smiled, thinking about the quick tutorial in equality she’d soon get.That’s got to be worth a good five points.