10.15.09 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshotI have always been a history buff. When I was in high school I just knew I was supposed to become a history teacher. I actually looked forward to my history classes, happily accompanied my family on different historic tours during vacations, and when I discovered the History Channel, I knew life was complete.

Obviously my career path changed. I discovered journalism late in high school and delved in during college and soon realized it was the path for me. But I’ve never lost my love of history.

I remember telling my parents how I would dream of living in specific periods of human history. Imagine witnessing the signing of the Declaration of Independence or hearing for the first time that man had found the secret to flight. I would have loved to have heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech live and in person.

As a teenager—and as most teenagers tend to do—I was certain I was living in one of the most boring eras in human history. Boy, I was wrong.

While piecing together this latest issue of Watermark, it hit me just how fortunate we are to live in this time—especially as members of the LGBT community. On Oct. 11, 100,000 people marched on Washington to demand equality for LGBT citizens. LGBTs and our allies rallied together for one cause—undivided by gender, age or race. Seeing the news coverage on television really made me realize that LGBT people cross all boundaries of American society.

Another major news story affecting LGBT people is the House’s passage of the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Act, which could become law by the end of the month. The law would allow officials throughout the nation to pursue attacks on LGBT as hate crimes.

Both events showed, at least to me, we are no longer that fringe segment of society portrayed by so many television pundits and preachers.

This month has been incredible on the local front as well. Both the City of Orlando and Tampa Bay actively showcased their respective LGBT communities. The Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival broke attendance records in the first few days of its 20th anniversary, and Come Out With Pride brought 50,000 people to downtown Orlando for a day of celebration on Oct. 11. Both events brought out not only LGBTs and their families, but numerous straight allies.

This year, St. Pete Pride broke records in the summer and LGBT people are continuously finding their way into elected offices around the state.

We are here and there’s no way anybody can’t get used to it!

Mel White, the Christian preacher, former ghostwriter and founder of the LGBT group SoulForce once said that in order for LGBT people to achieve full equality, we must come out to our friends and family. For it is when people put a face to a cause that the general public finally sees it as a real human issue. I’d say we successfully put a face on the issue of LGBT equality this month on both the state and national levels and maybe—just maybe—someone who did not understand the struggle for LGBT equality finally saw the importance of the fight.

That’s not to say that the work is done. There are still too many people both within and outside of the LGBT community who don’t see equality as a major goal for this generation. Wars, economics and scandalous politicians seem to be at the forefront of the minds of many Americans. But the fundamental right of equality is still under attack in the U.S.

A group in Maine hopes to follow in California’s footsteps and repeal a same-sex marriage law that was passed and then delayed there since last spring. Gay men and lesbians are still unable to legally adopt children in Florida and same-gender couples who are legally married in other countries are not recognized as married in our country.
We are definitely making progress, but with every impressive step in human history, there’s a prologue of grassroots movements, hardship and sacrifice.

I can’t wait to see what the history books will have to say about this chapter of our human story.

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