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We In The Trenches Are The Heroes! Not Rosie O'Donnell
David 'Kip' Koontz

April 19, 2002

On the TV this morning an announcement blared "Rosie O'Donnell Comes Out tonight on Prime Time Live!"

Get out the banners and hold a parade. Not.

Why should we care that Rosie O'Donnell makes this grand pronouncement?

Rosie, we will be told by gay & lesbian leaders, is now a role model and hero whom we should all admire.

Someone needs to explain why we should look to TV and movie stars to define ourselves?

All too often gays and lesbians have self-internalized the homophobia that has been inflicted upon us by church, state and community from the time we recognize, even remotely, that we had feelings toward members of our own gender.

This self-internalized homophobia causes many to seek approval by looking to others who are more rich and powerful than we, in the hopes that if people accept the likes of Ms. O'Donnell, Ms. Degeneris, Mr. Lane, that they will in turn accept us.

Well that's poppycock!

Why should we as a community look up to people who have hidden their identities, gone on to make it rich and then subsequently found a conscience which prompts them to announce that we should bow at their feet of divine enlightenment, for they are out and will save us from all oppression?

Most of us do not need your help Ms. O'Donnell and frankly there are role models who take the risks you never would that, while they have no national following, do more to help gays and lesbians than you ever will.

Look at the young cowboy, who even after what happened to Matthew Shepard, comes out to his parents in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Look at the woman construction worker in Detroit who has had enough of dyke jokes to tell her co-workers that she is the dyke to whom they refer.

Or what about the high school football hero in suburban Chicago, who, though terrified of the consequences, announces to his teammates that he is gay and wants to continue playing.

And what about the well-respected Boy Scouts whom, having followed the rules, get pitched out of the troop upon their outing?

How about our brave military personnel who find themselves greatly under fire since the ill fated "Don't ask, "Don't tell" policy was implemented? More men and women are being drummed out of our armed forces since this cockamamie scheme went into affect, than ever before.

What about the teenagers who, when they come out to their parents are set into the street and told "never come home because we do not want your kind living under our roof."

What about the construction worker, the mechanic, the telephone operator, the school teacher, the pastor, the police office, who lose their jobs, or suffer harassment, or don't get promoted because they come out.

This happens daily in this country. Yet these nameless heroes are the one we should objectify and call our role models.

In the book "Stonewall" by Martin Duberman there is a picture of about 18 men and women protesters who are participating in the first recorded march for equality on May 21, 1965, in front of the White House.

These men and women could have been jailed. They could have lost their jobs and homes - everything, yet they had to follow though on their convictions. That is bravery!

These pioneers in "gay rights" like, Forest Gunnison, Jr., Julian Hodges, Shirley Weller, Frank Kameny, and so on, are the real heroes. They risked everything. They were subjected to periodic harassment from the federal government and local police, yet they didn't falter.

There is no way to mention all the playwrights and authors whose work never saw the light of day, because there were mentions of things gay in the content that prevented publication.

Without the work they began, Ms. O'Donnell wouldn't have been able to get fat, rich and happy and then burst out when she really has nothing to lose but an over the hill career.

One must accept that every act of coming out - by just an average person is a very heroic act. That act may help change your neighbors mind or your doctor, or you co-workers or fellow congregants, etc. about who we are. It is proven that the more people who admit to knowing someone gay, they become less likely to dislike gays and lesbians in general.

There have been those of us who have been out here in the trenches facing overt (having people call you a faggot at least 2-3 time a week) and covert bigotry (parents whisking their children away from us for fear we might "turn them") for years.

We kind of resent the easy ride to fame and glory that the likes of Rosie have had when they have no idea what us little people down here on the ground have experienced.

Go back to your Ivory Tower, Rosie, and let those of us, who are really trying to make change get back to the work at hand.

Please don't expect us to come to Washington during the next Gay/Lesbian march and throw palms at your feet and hoot and holler cause you are officially now "one of us."

You should be thanking us.


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