Excitement!

It’s been said that the only constant in life is that it is ever-changing.. And in that vein, comes an exciting announcement from My Writings and Me, Inc.

As of this Friday, I’ll be taking a leave from the fantastical Chicagoist. In the year-ish since I came on board the site, I’ve written 101 posts and enjoyed an incredible opportunity to reach a new audience with my writings on Chicago’s queer communities while dabbling in a bit of witchcraft – er, music coverage – too. (What, you haven’t!?) Dreams came true when I interviewed Mink Stole. I had an outlet for what turned out being a love letter of sorts to Courtney Love and ’90s nostalgia. And, more importantly, I had the opportunity to work closely with a talented bunch of hyper-motivated and hardworking fellow writers who I’m sure will continue to shock and amaze. So, if you haven’t already, please bookmark and follow Chicagoist religiously, as though it were the cult you almost joined in college. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

While you’re bookmarking things, be sure to add the Windy City Times’ home page, where you will shortly find news coverage written by yours truly. As of this week, I’m coming on board the incredible enterprise, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary of publication. I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to work with such a legendary paper. As I described in my interview with publisher Tracy Baim for ChicagoPride.com, I think the paper provides not only invaluably attentive coverage of this city’s LGBT community, but also crucial visibility. I very much encourage you to check out last week’s special issue commemorating the paper’s silver anniversary to learn more about the paper’s past, present and future.

My work will also continue to be featured on ChicagoPride.com and Edge Media Network. Follow me on Twitter to stay on top of my latest pieces, and also be sure to visit my blog, which will continue to feature various run-off — most recently my response to former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee who, for some reason, is really obsessed with some article I wrote earlier this year.

Thank you all for your support through clicks, retweets, e-mails, “likes,” Facebook postings, comments, etc. etc., etc. As a good friend of mine, Brittany Julious pointed out in a recent interview with ch!cktionary, these are challenging times for freelance writers and every nugget of encouragement is fuel for our passions. Both that and news like this. And songs like this.

Meet me at the rally

On the morning of Wednesday, November 5, I awoke with feelings of hope, renewal and pride unlike anything I’d experienced in.. well, at least eight years. On the heels of four days spent knocking on doors; reminding voters in Madison, Wisconsin, to get out the vote; I remained physically and emotionally exhausted, but knowing that our nation had elected its first ever African American president quickly made the pain of aching feet dissipate.

My elation at Barack Obama’s victory was quickly squelched by the news from California that a slim majority of that state’s voters had chosen to reverse the state supreme court’s decision to legalize gay marriage by approving Proposition 8.

How could it be, I wondered in disbelief, that the lefty land of Hollywood, fruits and nuts [as aptly described by my right-leaning — Understatement of the Century — father] had just written inequality into their state law book? How could barely half of a state’s people take away marriage rights from our community? What was to happen to the thousands of lesbians and gay men whom had already wedded in the state? And why, I wondered, did it matter so much to those who had said ‘yes’ to overruling marriage equality? Who exactly are these people, and what do they want from us?

I’m sure that many of you reading this blog have wondered many of the same questions regarding the latest injustice to face our community. And as bothersome as these questions are, I think we need to save finger-pointing and self-deprecation in the past and look forward to the next questions: Where does our movement go from here? How do we spark a revolution?

Our answer can be found in the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” We must, as a community, take each others’ hands, hit to the streets and make our voices heard.

Alongside my fellow happy, chilly protesters du jour.
Alongside my fellow happy, chilly protesters du jour.

dscn5044This is precisely what happened yesterday, Saturday, November 15, as tens of thousands of protesters simultaneously gathered in cities across the United States and world to protest the continued denial of marriage and other civil rights to the LGBT community. I was lucky enough to be present at the Chicago rally (click for video clips) which began at Federal Plaza and continued through the streets of the busy downtown loop area, blocking traffic and raising hell, just as intended. Though an accurate number would be near impossible to quote, the amount of protesters was awe-inspiring. Certainly at least 3000 gay men, lesbians and their friends and family were present, making our chants of “Yes we can!” echo against the walls of high-rise office buildings and shopping meccas.

dscn5062I was amazed as I walked alongside people from all backgrounds and of all ages, as a community united in uproar against the disgusting decision. We were greeted with thumbs up, peace signs, smiles, car honks and; in the case of one older man I observed; slow, steady applause accompanied by trembling tears of joy. Not everyone was having it, though. One woman passing by screamed at a demonstrator: “Why do you think you’re so damn special that you can shut down the streets?”

dscn5051This issue is not about being special. It’s about being equal. It’s about spreading love; and as Keith Olbermann so nobly articulated in a magical, must-see special report; treating your neighbors as you would like to be treated. I, like so many others, dream of a day when I can stand before my family, friends and community to proclaim undying love to the person that I want to grow old with. And it’s going to be to a man. It’s going to be a marriage — not anything else going by any other name — and it’s going to come complete with every other right that heterosexual marriages are granted. I believe that everyone deserves the chance to make this dream come true.

dscn5057Saturday’s protest was preceeded the previous weekend by another demonstration against the induction of right-wing-nutzo James Dobson (of Focus on the Family fame) into the Radio Hall of Fame — a demonstration which I was able to report from. Both protests were peaceful but the message was clear: We’re not going to take this lying down. I could not have been more proud of my community for getting out and demanding equality. I have renewed confidence that it is dscn5049going to happen, because — gay, straight, white, black — together we are going to make it happen.

Below are a number of pictures from Saturday’s protest. Want to get involved? Check out JoinTheImpact.com, open your hearts and minds and help to create a better and more equal world for everyone.

Download: Phoenix ‘Rally’

Download: Nina Simone ‘Here Comes the Sun’

Download: Ben Sollee ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ (Sam Cooke cover)