Don’t ever let someone tell you that we haven’t “paid” for our civil rights, or that we haven’t “suffered enough.” Those who believe such things don’t know our history. They don’t know that we have been an oppressed people in cultures all over the world, in some way or another, since the dawn of Christianity.
We have paid for our freedom in the state-sanctioned murder of men committing “buggery,” in the blood that dripped from the backs of men lashed for “attempted buggery,” from the prison time for “lewd acts,” to the public shame stamped in Courier-font newsclippings listing the names of men and women caught in gay bars raided by police thugs bent on drawing blood.
We have paid for our unalienable rights in the young and old lost to astounding and cruel acts of violence, driven by the basest instincts to maim, torture, beat, and kill us simply because we look too gay, talk too butch, walk too funny, or glance too long.
We have paid for our dignity by holding the hands of our brothers, our fathers, our sons, and our lovers as they wither away from AIDS, while our government cruelly ignored our pleas and cries for help, for compassion, and for a modicum of human decency in the face of slow, terrifying death.
We have paid for our righteous anger in the tears we have shed for the bullied teens, alone, hanging themselves because they had no one to tell them that they are beautiful and loved and bound for better; and we know that we too came just that close to the same fate in our darkest moments.
We have paid for our liberty in the loss of family ties, as the people who gave us life shunned us simply because religion and society has taught them to be shamed by our presence, and afraid of our influence.
We will not be told that we haven’t suffered enough for our equality. We will not be told that the blisters on our feet are the pains of an immoral path. No, we will not back away from our civil rights, because that term is leased, not owned, by the people who carry the noble torch that devours the dark and brings a light that outshines every bigotry.