Playwright Josefina Lopez says that whenever she gets overwhelmed by the death and destruction in the daily news, she thinks about babies. They never tell us about all the babies born that day, she says. It’s been a tough few weeks of news for queer America—headlines full of children deciding they’d rather kill themselves than endure more emotional torture; a gang in the Bronx brutally and sadistically attacking three men, two of them gang members, because they suspected the men to be gay; lawsuits revealing the dark interior of Eddie Long’s alleged closet; New York’s GOP gubernatorial candidate railing against gay relationships on the campaign trail. I’ve tried to keep Lopez’s advice in mind.
Gay-related news is typically a one-sided story. We’re rarely discussed outside of our role as problems—as culture war combatants and public health challenges and victims of awful, twisted violence. We rarely appear as neighbors and spouses and siblings. Our everyday victories aren’t fair game for lifestyle features, community columns and other aspirational stories. Our love isn’t newsworthy.
That’s true beyond media. A young man told me a story a few years ago that stays with me. He had volunteered to give a speech at an LGBT youth rally in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The rally’s point was to tell the cops and condo owners who’d been harassing the hundreds of youth of color who gather there every day that the neighborhood was their space, too. He was terrified to stand in front of the crowd, but he gathered his courage and made his remarks. When he heard the applause at the end, he finally felt relief, and then confusion. “Well,” he thought, “you should have clapped at the beginning. Then I would have been OK.”
Today is National Coming Out Day. The annual event is an effort to clap at the beginning, to remember all the beautiful, queer babies born each day. Above, is a video shot by New York City’s Youth Pride Chorus, in which a group of wonderful young people react to the recent spate of bad gay news by singing to their struggling peers. It is beautiful. Watch it and forward it. Below is a video in which the Applied Research Center’s Tammy Johnson talks about the linkages between the LGBT rights and racial justice movements. Watch and forward it, too. Then, whatever your sexuality, go out and celebrate love. We promise to do a lot more of the same in our coverage here at ColorLines.