On the shoulders of giants

"If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." This phrase, famously written in a letter from Sir Isaac Newton to his rival Robert Hooke, applies well to our modern LGBT movement.

Sometimes we have trouble seeing beyond our current struggles - or rather, behind them, looking at the progress that has been made since the 1960s and how far we have come thanks to the brave souls who came out and fought for rights at a time when being beaten or even killed for their sexual orientation was commonplace; when being a gay man or lesbian - or worse by society's standards, transgender - was seen by most as a sickness that needed to be stomped out.

How far we've come.

Equality Michigan Board President Denise Brogan-Kator commented during her speech at the Capitol building in Lansing during the Michigan Pride rally on June 12: "Not so long ago, if you were LGB or T, you had to hide in the closet to be safe. You couldn't tell your family or your friends, you couldn't come out to your employer or your pastor. You had to hide your relationships; you had to deny that the person you loved was nothing more than just a friend.

"Thank goodness we've made some progress. The mere fact that we're here today at Michigan Pride, unafraid to be who we are, to love who we love, is a testament to the fact that times do change."

Sometimes it takes the overwhelming and ubiquitous displays of LGBT Pride Month to remind us that though we still have many rights to obtain, and many battles to fight, we have come a long way. And we should be extremely happy about it.

In this issue of Between The Lines, we announce that three of Michigan's LGBT leaders will be heading to the White House for an LGBT Pride Month reception on June 22 - Equality Michigan Executive Director Alicia Skillman, Affirmations CEO Leslie Thompson and Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh.

This isn't the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" or the Defense of Marriage Act. It's not an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act or full recognition of our families. But it's not nothing, either.

This is the first time gay leaders from our state - and, presumably, from many other states, though no official list was released - have been invited to meet the president and celebrate Pride Month in the White House.

Wow. It feels really good to say that.

We can stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and see that our future is getting brighter, but we can also look back and see where we have come from. It benefits us to do both, and cherish moments like city-welcomed Pride marches, presidential invitations or national media coverage of our stories.

We should never let up the pressure we're putting on this and any administration to give us the rights we deserve. But we also deserve a little happiness, right? And we can take that happiness from moments like these, which can't be measured by polls or laws, but are felt in a way that tells us that we are an integral part of society and we are valuable.

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Special Section: Pride Guide
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Hot off Season 7 of the LOGO channel's "Ru Paul's Drag Race" phenomenon, Darienne Lake of Season 6 spoke with Between the Lines about her upcoming hosting gig at Motor City Pride June 6.

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