50th anniversary of March on Washington changed much, hopes to change more

One of the hopeful faces from the March on Washington 50 years ago today

One of the hopeful faces from the March on Washington 50 years ago today

Fifty years ago today, something momentous took place in Washington, D.C. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took to the podium at the historic March on Washington to deliver his famed “I Have a Dream” speech, the tapestry of the United States was set to be forever changed. Little did he realize that all these years later, his words would echo with as much resonance as they did that day.

What an amazing premise was the entire concept of the march. A peaceful, non-confrontational way to express the disappointment of a marginalized race of people, the walk drew participants from every walk of life. Rich or poor, young or old, even white or black, it didn’t matter; the mission was the same…equality. And 50 years later, Dr. King’s words still hang in the ears of those who still struggle for equality.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”

In 1963, those words did indeed ring true; with some caveats. Even though for the first time in history blacks were to be viewed as equal to their white brethren, many didn’t see it that way. To many, to be black was to still be inferior. And sadly, this is still in the mind of many in this country today. But much of what the March on Washington stood for is outside of race. The poverty level for blacks in that time was huge, and no opportunities were available. Before the march, there was no hope of this statistic changing. So while race was the impetus behind the march, what it really stood for was having the opportunity to have a chance…a chance at a better quality of life.

“We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi and the Negro in New You believes he has nothing to vote for.”

Affirmative action, anti-discrimination laws, and greater opportunities for education have all helped blacks in the U.S. to achieve that chance at a better life. Blacks have been offered greater opportunities in business, in their communities, in politics. Adopting the moniker African Americans, we have chosen to pick up the gauntlet that Dr. King threw down that day in 1963. Many of us have run with it, some have stumbled and fallen. But with the resiliency of a people long presumed to be destined for failure, we press on…and will continue to do so.

“We ain’t where we could be, we ain’t where we should be, but thank God we ain’t where we was.”

Fast forward 50 years, and today the struggle for equality has shifted. As African Americans, our pursuit of a better quality of life has been improved…but there is still ground to cover. And now, we need to take those lessons taught to us by Dr. King, and share them with those facing the marginalization and discrimination that many before us endured. And it is also important to pay homage to those who lost their lives in the pursuit.

“Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, we are free at last.”

Much thanks…to Dr. King, and to all those who had the courage to stand up to their beliefs. We all owe each and every one a debt of thanks.

Commentary on what today’s SCOTUS rulings mean to me

Same sex marriageI must admit, I never thought marriage was in the cards for me. Aside from the fact that same-sex marriage isn’t legal in my state, I chalked it up to consistently making poor choices in the relationship department. But the U.S. Supreme Court rulings today on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and California’s Proposition 8 has made me rethink that. Not for myself, but for all of those who want not just the legal benefits of marriage, but the recognition as well.

I was at a party a few weeks ago for a friend’s birthday. Laughter and fun prevailed all afternoon. In attendance were two other friends, a gay male couple, who were speaking about their upcoming civil union ceremony. A young lady in attendance didn’t have a full understanding of what it all meant, and asked the question.

“Imagine if you will that you and your boyfriend are married,” my friend began, “and God forbid he dies. There is no question of you inheriting his estate without any legal or taxable issues, right”

She nodded in agreement.

“Now, imaging the same scenario for the two of us. Suppose I die, and want to leave my entire estate to my partner. Even though we are joined in a civil union, my death and his inheritance becomes a huge taxable occurrence for him. Does that seem fair?”

The young lady looked at him with a new sense of understanding…and compassion.

“Not at all,” she replied.

I am paraphrasing the actual story a bit, but this is the gist of the content. Did I mention that the gay couple in question has been together for 34 years? I would say that in this instance, that is quite a significant part of the story.

Even though the Supreme Court stopped short of a sweeping ruling on gay marriage with Proposition 8, the death of DOMA is of huge significance. While understandable in its conception, DOMA is been lorded over the gay community like the sword of Damocles for years. Now, with its death, states can re-examine their own laws. I suspect that while today has been a great victory, to battle has just begun for the 35+ states that currently have a same-sex marriage ban on their books.

Later today, my friends will be holding their civil union ceremony in a downtown courthouse. While seemingly less significant to some yesterday, it means quite a bit more today. It means that the struggles and prejudice the have experienced through their 34 years together have not been for naught, and that their relationship takes another step forward to complete equality not just for themselves, but for all of us.

As for me, I do have someone who is becoming more and more significant in my life now. Will we get to the point of the “talk” about a civil union…or heaven forbid…marriage? It’s too soon to say…at least from where I sit. But should the topic come up sometime in the future, I may consider it a bit more seriously. I never thought it was in the cards for me. But he is changing my mind…and today’s Supreme Court rulings are helping to plead his case as well.

U.S. Supreme Court prepared to rul on monumental issues TOMORROW

p549007_mAccording to the U.S. Supreme Count’s online blog, decisions will be made on a number of key issues and released tomorrow. Among those include DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Proposition 8. Check the SCOTUS page for updates beginning at 7:00a.m. MDT to learn of their decisions on these hot-button issues. What are your thoughts on the issues on the table? Weigh in with your comments.

GALA Festival 2012 comes to Denver this weekend

4.5 days, 45 ensembles, 130 choirs, 200 performances, and over 6,000 delegates in beautiful downtown Denver, Colorado! Are you ready for a music-packed and fabulous GALA Festival 2012?

 

GALA Festival 2012 is a gathering of some of the best and the brightest in the nation of gay chorus’. This 4 day event runs from July 7th through July 11th, and include not just traditional chorus events, but some late-night cabaret performances, events for youth, and special events aimed directly at women. It is going to be an amazing event, featuring some of the best and the brightest talent in the country.

GALA Choruses lead the GLBT choral movement. Their mission is to cultivate the artistic development of 8,000 singers from more than 170 choruses around the globe—from the Americas to Europe to Africa to Australia. As an entity, GALA serves choruses small or large. Help is here whether a chorus has 5 members or 250, a budget of $10,000 or $3 million.

To learn more about this amazing event, follow this link. Hope to see you there!!

NFL Player opens up about the NFL culture and homosexuality

Is the NFL ready for an openly gay player?

If you believe the equation is true, one in ten men is allegedly gay. And if you believe that to be true, then you must assume that on any given Sunday, there is a gay pro football player on the field during football season. Plausible? Sure it is…if you believe that to be true. And if you believe that there would be a player with the courage to come out. In this month that Gay Pride celebrations abound from coast-to-coast, wouldn’t it be great if one, just one, would have the courage to come out? One NFL player, who is not gay, thinks it’s time, and that the player that steps up would be a hero to do so.

Connor Barwin, a linebacker for the Houston Texans, is the proud brother of Joe Barwin, who happens to be gay. In a rare interview, Connor speaks exclusively with OutSports.com on his brother, homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Connor also speaks out on how he would feel if an NFL teammate were to come out.

What are your thoughts on gay athletes? Has the time come for athletes to open up and come out? Or are they better remaining silent about their sexuality. Comment here!

Unraveling the origins of gay pride celebrations

Gay pride celebrations: where did they begin?

During the month of June, Gay Pride celebrations occur all across the country. Origins of the celebrations are courtesy of the Stonewall Riots; events that took place in the early morning hours of June 28th 1969 at the Stonewall Bar in New York City. While gay and lesbian patrons had been the subject of harassment from the local police, the Stonewall Riots on that morning would forever change the landscape of the gay rights movement in the United States. No longer were gay and lesbian individuals going to hide in the shadows; and closet doors were opened at last!

Still, behind the events of that day were a number of little known facts that spurred the movement even more. For example, did you know that many of the gay bars in NYC, the Stonewall included, had ties to organized crime? How about how the mafia trained the staff of these bars to extort large sums of money from some of their wealthier patrons in order to keep their secret hidden in the closet?

Follow this link, and learn more fact about the rise of the gay rights movement that you may not have been aware of. As always we welcome your comments.