After I posted my open letter about gay marriage, I got a lot of e-mails. This one almost moved me to tears (reprinted with permission):
As a just about 65-year-old gay man who first participated in the civil rights movement and the stop-the-war actions back in "history"; who came out in college (as bisexual, of course, later amended); who lived through the AIDS holocaust; and who has been trying to claim my own equal rights ever since, I thank you for acknowledging my existence and my contribution to the current state of affairs.
I didn't do it all right, but I did the best I could in uncharted territory...and lived to tell the tale. Unfortunately, there are very few who want to listen.
It has cost me dearly—emotionally, financially, and psychologically—but I think it has been worth it. I can hold my head up. But I do hope your generation doesn't waste the momentum.
Regards and thanks,
Jack, I want to assure you that I know lots of people who are listening and who are continuing the work that you and your contemporaries have done. Many folks in mainstream America seem to understand gay people only through the lens of stereotypes offered to them by the media—on that same token, the reason why some gay people feel disenfranchised from "the gay community" (particularly those not living in major metropolitan areas) is because they are influenced by the same stereotypes, so much so that it can sometimes be hard to see all the people in the gay community who do honor their history and do hold previous generations in high esteem. On behalf of us all, I thank you.