Harvey Milk

I watched Milk over the weekend.

When I was a year old, Harvey Milk was assassinated. He was the first openly gay politician in California, and he mobilized a movement that would spread slow and steady across the country, never to lose momentum.

When I was 12, I attended a Dutch Reformed youth group in an exploration of my own spirituality. A fellow student asked what happened to gay people when they died, and our youth pastor responded that they go to hell. I never went back there.

When I was 13, my public school invited a police officer to give us a “motivational” talk on how he healed himself from being gay after finding Jesus.

When I was 19, I watched Ellen come out of the closet on public television.

When I was 20, I befriended Trevor, a bisexual man. He was only into men at the time, and we became fast friends, eventually renting an apartment together in Sherman Hill. We ended up falling for each other, and I eventually moved out. We’re still friends though.

When I was 21, Matthew Shepard was tortured and beaten, tied to a fence, and abandoned for being gay. He died less than a week later. His attackers are both serving two consecutive life sentences in prison.

When I was 22, I developed an innocent crush on my gay, female philosophy professor. She was smart, she was strong, and she stood for female power.

When I was 25, I went door-to-door in Des Moines, Iowa asking for people to support the legalization of gay marriage. I had doors slammed in my face; I had grateful bear hugs.

When I was 27, I attended my first Gay Pride parade in Amsterdam. I got stuck in a clogged street party with 6’5″ drag queens in platform heels and white chiffon. We couldn’t escape for nearly one, hilarious hour.

When I was 30, the Ellen DeGeneres show was ranked number one television personality in the US.

When I was 31, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected the state law banning same-sex marriage. Less than a month later, county recorders were required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

When I was 32, I befriended my first transgendered man, Michael. He’s a British welder and a bad-ass pool player who wears fake eyelashes, padded bras and far too much perfume.

When I was 35, I started jogging with a gay man who tells me all about the emerging culture of gay families in Amsterdam. Gay men and lesbian women are raising children with love and stability.

Just today, I sat in on a GLBT working group to bring diversity to the multinational corporation I work for. The gay guys in my group voiced the concern that it’s a bit of a non-issue in the Netherlands, but that our other country units, particularly to the east of us, are still in the budding stages of their own gay-rights movements.

It’s worth talking about. GLBT power.

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