From: db477@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Cliff Pearson)
Subject: COME OUT FIGHTING
Date: 17 Dec 1994 07:50:35 GMT
East Texas Stonewall Association
November 30, 1994
One year ago, on November 30, 1993 three thugs met Nicholus
Ray West at a Tyler Texas park, kidnapped him, robbed him,
stripped him, beat him, and drove him twenty miles away to a
desolate road. They shot him nine times and left him to die,
which he did. The gang admitted they killed him because he
was gay. The police apprehended the gang and their leader,
Donald Aldrich, received a death sentence.
This outrageous event was a source of conversation all over
Texas for months. East Texan gay and lesbian activists, in
conjuction with the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, held a
memorial and "Stop the Hate Rally" in Tyler on December 11,
1993 getting national media coverage.
It's now one year later and where are we? Outraged gay and
lesbian East Texans have formed the East Texas Stonewall
Association to fight the discrimination, homophobia, and
heterosexism coming largely from the Religious Right. But
most gay, lesbian, and bisexual East Texans have not changed
despite the murder. People are still too scared to get
involved, and many have internalized the rhetoric of the
Religious Right. (They dismiss most of the homophobia, but
they keep the racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and classist dogma).
When the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance rode through East
Texas last June on their "Freedom Ride," not only did no
East Texan gay, lesbian, or bisexual people show up at any
of the cities where they stopped, but the DGLA faced severe
opposition from religious fanatics in Gilmer Texas--alone.
Their "Freedom Ride," designed to increase gay, lesbian, and
bisexual visibility in East Texas, only reinforced how
invisible we are.
With the recent Right Wing victory sweep in elections across the
country, one might wonder if anything is ever going to change.
But now is not the time for cynicism, now is the time for action.
Straight people, even our well-meaning allies, often do not see
how deeply affecting the heterosexual cultural bias is to us.
Even after the brutal murder of a gay brother here in our
hometown, many East Texan gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are
content to remain quiet saying their sexuality is "no one's
It would be true that a person's sexuality is "no one's business"
under ideal circumstances, but we do not live in an ideal world.
Straights make their sexuality known to us almost constantly. We
know people are heterosexual every time they mention spouses,
ex-spouses, in-laws, dates, marriages, bridal showers, dances,
romantic interests, engagements, boyfriends, girlfriends, who
they want to sleep with, etc. It is very difficult not to know
a straight person is straight, and it is nearly impossible to
escape the heterosexuality of the larger society.
If we avoid discussing our social lives, we accept a second class
citizenship that unconsciously reinforces the idea that we do not
belong. Silence about our orientation says being gay, lesbian,
or bisexual is something to be ashamed of.
What about discrimination against us? People are dying. Our
teens are killing themselves. Thirty percent of teen suicide
is gay-related, according to United States Surgeon General
We are the last legally discriminated against minority, the only
minority that is hated because of who we love. And with
overwhelming Right Wing victories across the country, legalized
prejudice is likely to increase.
We cannot get married in any state or U.S. territory. We face
difficulty in having or adopting children, or keeping the ones
we already have. People believe we are child molesters or want
to recruit their children. In most religious traditions we
cannot be ordained to the clergy. Openly gay, lesbian, or
bisexual teachers face extreme hardship. We get denied
mortgages, loans, or leases because our partner is of the same
gender as ourselves. If we publicly show affection for our
partner people accuse us of flaunting it (even though they do it
We cannot visit our partner in the hospital if he or she is in
critical condition because we are not family. We cannot get
our partner on our insurance in the vast majority of organiza-
tions. We cannot get bereavement leave when our partner dies.
And we can be fired because we are gay, lesbian, or bisexual
with little or no legal recourse available.
Nationally, and in most cities, counties, and states there is
no civil rights protection for us. In many states, such as
here in Texas, it is technically illegal to be homosexual.
Open hostility to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals is not only
tolerated in elected officials, it is encouraged, and even
required. The campaign rhetoric of the overwhelmingly
victorious Right Wing made this clear.
In most places in the United States, media coverage of us is
inaccurate, and often stereotypical. The same goes for film
and television portrayals (with rare exceptions).
Many of us do not experience all these forms of discrimination,
but the vast majority of us do. Ask yourself, how much will you
tolerate? Are you complacent like so many of the East Texans?
What does it take for you to proudly add your voice to others?
Is the hateful murder of our brothers and sisters, like Nicholus
Ray West, enough?
Going to the bars once a week or hanging out with gay or lesbian
friends, while remaining secretive everywhere else changes
nothing. Do not be afraid to be angry any longer.
It has been a year, but it is not too late to get involved.
Fight for your civil rights and your place in the larger society.
Come out fighting.
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