Dear Veteran Feminists,
It has been four days since the terrorist attack on the LGBTQ Community in Orlando, Florida. I cannot let another day go by without a formal acknowledgment of the immeasurable contribution to the American Women’s Movement that has been made and continues to be made by women who identify as Gay, Lesbian and Trans*.
As any of us can share, The Pulse was not a “dance” club. It was a SAFE ZONE where marginalized people could enter, be themselves and breathe free from the discrimination and danger of the majority society. 49 people have been identified and loved ones notified that they are gone forever. But the unimaginable tragedy is that LGBTQ who grew up with hope and the great advances of equality in marriage and the military now are deadly aware of what palpable hate looks like. Their safe-havens are impugned.
They may have heard the stories of Harvey Milk, Stonewall and great marches for liberation but they were safely tucked away in black and white photos. They certainly understand bullying and, also, in a whole new way - digital bullying. They know individual murder (14 trans people this year so far). They know HIV testing. They know what “pray away the gay” means. They absolutely know what loss due to suicide feels like.
What only we know is how lesbians have done so much of the heavy lifting in the American Women’s Movement. We know the true meaning of The Lavender Menace. We know that we met in bars and in AA meetings and in our homes. We know that Harvey always publicly spoke with his lesbian friend, Sally Miller Gearhart and offered his camera store to Martin & Lyon in the forming of The Daughters of Bilitis. We know our closets, longing for marriage, desire to be able to adopt. We know.
So I cannot let another day go by without noticing, thanking, loving the Gay, Lesbian, Trans* Veteran Feminists. A few in particular who have deeply driven my heart forward; Barbara Love, Kate Millett, Martha Wheelock.
Peace, Safety and Gratitude,