By, Dani Langevin, Lesbian Columnist – July, 2012
This month, as we do every July here in America, we celebrate Independence Day. It is on this day over 230 years ago we declared our independence from an unjust government stating that we, as Americans, have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, in most states this only applies to heterosexual Americans. When will ALL Americans have their independence day? When will there be a gay independence day. We have accomplished a great deal, but we have a long way to go.
On Mother’s day a pastor by the name of Charles Worley gave a sermon advocating for the imprisonment of gays and lesbians in concentration camps. He, this man of God, lectured his ‘flock’ on building two concentration camps surrounded by a fence 50 to 100 miles long. One camp would be for gay men, the other for lesbians. He at least had the decency to mention dropping food into the camps, but pointed out that as time went by the population inside each camp would die because they cannot procreate. I wonder if he considered all the gays and lesbians being born to heterosexual couples outside of the camps. I think not.
History has had its plethora of dynamic gays and lesbians going all the way back to the ancient Greeks and further. Their contributions to every aspect of human life is no less than awe inspiring and yet the gay and lesbian community still has to fight for its independence. Their contributions may not have been due to their sexuality, but despite what they had given to our world they still had to hide the fact that they were homosexual or face persecution as a result.
Alan Turing a British mathematician and computer scientist who is considered the father of computer science and saved a countless number lives during World War II because of his code breaking skills was arrested by the British government when it was discovered he was a homosexual. Turing was subjected to being injected with female hormones to alter his homosexual tendencies. He killed himself at the age of forty-two by ingesting cyanide. A World War II hero arrested because he was gay.
Some of the world’s most outstanding military and government leaders have been gay. Emperor Wu of China was the most important Han ruler. The Emperors Hadrian of Rome and Montezuma II of the Aztec empire were well known for their military accomplishments and expanding their respective empires, both gay men. Alexander the Great, Ieyasu Tokugawa a Japanese Shogun, Peter the Great of Russia, Fredrick the Great of Prussian and even Pope Julius III were all outstanding gay leaders of their time. Let us not forget Chief Crazy Horse who led a war party at the Battle of Little Bighorn against an unjust American government who was trying to destroy the Lakota way of life.
There have been plenty of wonderful lesbians in history, too. Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing. Imagine a life without nurses. I shudder to think of it. Katherine Lee Bates was a poet and songwriter who composed the lyrics to America the Beautiful. Thanks to the efforts of Susan B. Anthony women have the right to vote and it’s only been less than 100 years that we’ve held that right. Billy Jean King, who I had the pleasure to meet a few years back, proved that women can compete on the same stage as men. Most recently, Ellen Degeneres has not only shown that you can be an out lesbian, but you don’t have to be straight to be the spokes person for a major cosmetics company. This barely scratches the surface of outstanding gays and lesbians in history.
I was a closeted lesbian for a very long time. When I finally accepted who I am and came out to my friends, family and colleagues it was amazing what I discovered about myself. I began to write. I felt stronger and more empowered. I became more creative and I became independent. Almost all of these gays and lesbians in history accomplished their goals while hiding their sexuality. They squished it deep down inside into a little box that they and they only held the key to. But, you can’t hide one part of yourself without hiding other parts. It’s like trying to dump one grain of sand out of a bucketful. It’s impossible. Imagine what these people could have done if they had all been out, proud and independent of their constraints placed on them by society.
Now imagine this country had we never declared and fought for our independence. What would America be like had it not became a sovereign nation? It would most likely be a shadow of itself. Every American, every person deserves their freedom and independence from any institution that tries to stifle or deny them of their inalienable rights. I am proud to be a gay American and I deserve an independence day.