It isn’t easy being gay. There’s the day-to-day drudgery of being fun, fit, fabulous and fashionable. Everyone wants to be your bf or bff. At this time of year, the logistics of planning for pride season - what-to-wear, hows-my-hair and party favs - which begins in important earnest in June, can make even the spinniest of us so spun out, like a sweaty, whirling dervish huffing helium on a laser-lit dance floor mixing it up to the beat and the bodies. (So 80s - the huffing helium, part.) And there’s beating the body back into beachwear buffness, not to mention being single. Still!
As if that’s not enough to contend with, this week alone there has been more than enough news, most of it bad, to blow a boy’s brain, thank you very much. It's crazy. I can image poor gay heads popping - exploding even! - and not in a done-blowed-up-real-good kind of way. Because on top of the tanning and the shopping and the party planning there is the none-too-small matter of a pogram in Africa, ridiculous remarks by a Canadian Conservative leader and a professional sports agent, homophobic teachers in our schools and, well, it's all a bit too much even for us - the smart, sexy and successful set. We are successful because we have put great effort into our lives, and we can work it, bitches.
I once heard a definition of what it means to be a successful man by a true survivor. I went something like this: If you have one person, one friend, one other soul in your life who – when “they” come for you; and they will come for you, if not today or tomorrow or sometime, they will come for you. If there is that one soul who, when you’re running for your life from them, will take you in and shelter you and give up their life for you then you are a successful man.
Well, they are coming for us, as they always have.
They are coming for us in Uganda.
They are attacking our rights in Canada.
They are after us in sports.
They are against us in the military.
It makes you stop. It makes you think that the decision that has been weighing so heavily on your mind lately – whether to go with short or long hair this summer – is all that important.
Harvey Milk Day is 10 days away. It is celebrated around the world on May 22nd. The very least we can do to honour his legacy as our hero and a heavy-weight champion of human rights, is to do what Harvey did: recruit. Yea, I said it: recruit.
Thirty-three years ago, Harvey gave his famous Hope Speech, which he began by saying:
“My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you.”
He was the first political figure that I am aware of who recruited for a cause called hope.
“And the young gay people… The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us'es, the us'es will give up.”
We can’t give up. We just can’t. We must keep putting great effort into our lives and others.
We can do all that is gay – the fun, the fabulousness, the fashion, the fitness and, yes, the fucking – and we can fight. We’ve done it before and we will be called on to do it again and again because they will always come for us. We’re gay. We are the very definition of successful, in every sense of the word. Beat that. You can't. Not anymore. We'll beat back.
If they come this way, here at the end-of-the-road on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast, I'll kick their ass.
My name is Dave Brindle and I’m here, as Harvey said, to recruit “you and you and you, you have to give people hope.” What’s your name?