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Cocktails and road trips.

Attention veteran gay activists: We are all currently being eclipsed by 33 young queers on a bus, and we need to pay attention.

Many semiretired LGBT activists have earned a rest, having put in years and years of service on the front lines in the gay liberation demos of the '60s and '70s and in the AIDS protests of the '80s and '90s. Some of us earned our stripes demonstrating for racial equality, women's rights, peace, and other human rights goals.

And when it's convenient we still get out into the streets. Several times in recent years I've headed to the intersection of San Vicente and Santa Monica boulevards in West Hollywood, Calif., to join protests against antigay violence and marriage discrimination. The sheriffs deputies reroute traffic, people make speeches, we chant, and we're home in time to watch ourselves on the 11 o'clock news.

But apart from a couple of largely celebratory LGBT marches on Washington, D.C., I haven't set aside real time and money for an activist demonstration since the Reagan-Bush era, when a group of friends and I used to drive from New York City to D.C. for abortion rights rallies every year or two.

How about you?

This issue's cover story on the Equality Ride offers an unequivocal wake-up call: Get out there or get out of the way. We need to be seen and heard in the places where the lies and the discrimination are the worst. As 24-year-old ride creator Jake Reitan reminds us, the civil rights activists of the 1960s aren't remembered for marching close to home. To change hearts and minds, people need us to come to them.

To the Equality Riders and the many other young queers who still keep their arrest kits handy and their anger on simmer, thank you. We're in your debt. Too often LGBT youth are put down for enjoying the "freedom we made possible" while "we" enjoy hosted cocktail parties--at the same time countless younger people are out there battling for gay-straight alliances, arranging marches in Tennessee, and otherwise fighting so that "we" can enjoy our cosmos and poached salmon.

Maybe we can't all take a month off to ride on a bus from Virginia to Texas to California and back. But we can support those who do make that investment. We can make sure the groups to whom we give our time and money have real plans for taking their message to the people who need to hear it: Not just to legislators, not just to media moguls, not to celebrities, but to the people out there in that nebulous land called America. Because when the people join the side of equality, the lawmakers, newscasters, and movie stars quickly follow.

Who's doing this work? I'll leave that for you to judge. Equality Ride is a project of the amazing Soulforce (www.soulforce.org) and is funded in part by out furniture mogul Mitchell Gold, who's also working on his own Faith in America heartland media project (www.faithinamerica.info, as reported in our April 11 issue). The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network regularly takes on dozens of local school boards (www.glsen.org); every LGBT community center worth its salt sponsors local protests whenever provoked; and all the major East Coast-based organizations have some grassroots component. If you write checks or volunteer your time, you also get to ask questions and demand resulted--or else what's the point?

And don't rule out getting on a bus and going on the road. You're never too young or too old to fight for your rights.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:FROM THE EDITOR IN CHIEF
Author:Steele, Bruce C.
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:May 9, 2006
Words:600
Previous Article:Tommie Watkins.
Next Article:Gays & buses.


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