Wednesday, January 30, 2013

President Obama and Creating Change!

               Too often in my experiences of working to dismantle oppressions and further social justice in our world, the news is hard. The systemic nature of all of the isms can be so overwhelming that it can be difficult for me to start activist work and I can easily feel burned out after grappling with these issues for long periods of time. However, watching President Obama’s address to Creating Change, the National Conference on LGBT equality, was so uplifting for me. It was the result of the tireless work of LGBTQ activists around the country and I really think that moves forward like this must be fully recognized and celebrated.        
                However, it is interesting to write about something positive for a change. I find that my mind is hardwired in a sense to scan everything for potential flaws and negatives. What did the President not say? What more could he have said and done… and of course, there is always more to be done, more recognition to be given, more change to be made… But at some point, there has got to be a relaxation of that negative muscle. And I want this post to be a place for that for me.
                Obama gave a minute and a half address in which he cited progress that has been made over time. He cited the dark struggles of the AIDS epidemic as well as the labeling of being gay as a mental disorder and his mention of this made me feel the ties of community even though I was not alive during those struggles. I also really resonated with his call for a nation “where everyone who works hard and plays by the rules has a chance to earn their citizenship.” I think this acknowledgement that LGBTQ people are constructed as being less than citizens through heterosexism, the denial of their rights, and a general lack of cultural legitimacy is an important one. And to know that we have progressed to a moment where the President of the United States (!) is concerned enough about that to send a message to Creating Change is really exciting for me.  President Obama also acknowledged that work still has to be done in order to “continue the journey to perfect our union.” It is wonderful to get recognition that our union truly isn't perfect. He also recognized that “the work will be hard, the road will be long” which is true and important to state whenever change has been made but must not stagnate.
                Watching his address makes me feel so proud of all the LGBTQ people and allies that have worked and fought and given their lives to see change happen. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to people at Creating Change who got to watch this there. I also watched Rea Carey’s State of the Movement as well which, though I'm not focusing on here, was really uplifting and exciting and communicated a lot of the same energy and positivity that the President's speech did. I hope that she and everyone else there felt as excited as I did because they deserve a moment of recognition and a moment to feel excited before we all keep making change and continue moving forward. 

I watched the speeches here!

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