"Baby, You've Still Got A Long Way To Go"

By Hillman Minx

I remember when it was still music, before it became cacophony (see, I'm showing my age and prejudice). I used to have a recording that I loved. It was strictly New Orleans Jazz, and went something like this: "You've come a long way from St. Louis, but baby, you've still got a long way to go.

I believe that title is sort of appropriate in this season of change, and not-so-change. At least homosexuality has come out of the closet more or less, so to speak! What is it? I believer that there are 26 characters on TV who are openly playing gay parts. And then, of course, the highly controversial, but still in the right direction, "Don't ask, don't tell" policy of the armed forces. Then there are more and more communities that even recognize same sex partners for workers benefits.

We've read about and heard people on talk shows like Mel White, the fearless gay crusader who is not a bit timid to take on the whole establishment, including the rabid Christian right community, about the question of simple equality in housing and the workplace.

I must acknowledge that progress is being made-and I can't help but wonder what this new century will bring. Will there ever be a time when we can take our place as openly gay persons in this now generally hetrosexual society? Will we ever be able to solemnize our commitments to each other and be able to openly express our affections, just like hetrosexuals do?

Regretfully, I must confess that I'm not personally ready to make my sexual preference known to the world. I'm from a society so far back that I would shatter friendships and be blocked from the profession that I have followed throughout my life. I am well known (Hilly is only my cover) in my field. I can't even see where anything would be gained by my outing.

I am personally acquainted with Mel White and I have discussed the pros and cons of my own outing. He agrees that I should remain in the closet. I am 80 and too old to be much of a crusader, even though I chafe to do so. As a matter of fact, this is really the only way that I can express my outrage at the prejudice, and cast my silent vote with those who fearlessly champion gay rights.

I suppose that I will be dead and gone a long time before true equality will ever surface, but make no mistake, surface it will, perhaps in the lifetime of some of my younger readers.

The only concrete suggestion that I have for all of us, it is to either openly or quietly support gay causes and vote for those who are of a like mind, give financial support to those gay crusaders like Mel White, who are at the forefront of the firing line. Then to live decently and quietly until the time comes when we are not relegated to second-class status. We've a whole new century to come into our own.

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