To the editor:
I was 13 years of age when the American Psychiatric Association began to question whether “homosexuality” was a mental disorder. I was 26 when any homosexual reference was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of mental disorders in 1973.
I have personal memories of significant historical moments: news reports of the Stonewall riots in New York City, images of the Vietnam War on television, reports of political, racial and social divides. I came up in a climate of upheaval that defined the world I lived in. The era also affected who I was and ultimately informed who I became.
I was a child on a Friday afternoon in 1963 when CBS news reporter Walter Cronkite lost his on-air composure as he relayed the news that the 35th president of the United States was dead. I was a young woman who walked to view the 3-foot-by-6-foot panels of the 1989 AIDS quilt in Washington, D.C., two years after the epidemic was finally acknowledged in a speech by the 40th president of the United States. I was a mature woman protesting at the Women’s March in 2017 the day after the 45th president came into office.
These days my long-informed perspective seems a cold comfort as communications from the 45th president, in the form of Tweets, hit me like a fist in the face.
I thought being categorized as mentally ill for being gay was the worst we would collectively face as LGBT+ humans.
I go to sleep watching the news of the day. I wake to the news of the day. I have cycled through every human emotion in reaction to what’s going on. The political/social climate makes me feel at loose ends. I worry about what is unreported, unknown, and what we will find out in hindsight. I worry about the future.
The weight of world issues can feel overwhelming when we feel helpless.
“I went up to the mountain, because you asked me to ...,” sang Patty Griffin in “Up to the Mountain,” a song inspired
by Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington. Like Griffin, I am a white-skinned, blue-eyed woman with Irish immigrant family roots.
While there may be political strategies to divide us on issues, viewpoint, experience, etc., there are bitter pills of truth to swallow. No one achieves real progress alone, and progress is never done.
Change should never be limited to one class, color, identity, cause, or current crisis.
I encourage everyone to start, right here, right now, to enable change to come.
It is OK to not know every answer. It is OK to feel delayed. It is OK to lack the experiences of others. It is OK to feel ill-equipped. Nothing is more powerful and forgiving than a willingness to serve the greater good.
Advance what you can, when you can. Call upon what brought you to want more, first for yourself, and then for the world. We need you.
Former director of LIKEME Lighthouse,
LGBT+ community center