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When Dustin Lance Black delivered his acceptance speech after winning the Academy Award for the screenplay of “Milk” I was mesmerized.

Later he testified before the CA Congress on the significance of recognizing Harvey Milk Day and I was moved.

Each time I’ve heard him speak I’ve felt like he was talking to my 19 year old self.  I again had that opportunity last night.  This time in person.

I was out driving around  all day yesterday for work and heard of his visit on NPR.  Fortunately it was on my way home at just the right time so I stopped and listened.

The guy is my hero because he has had the courage to do and say what I didn’t at his age.  He came out at 21;  I came out at 40.  He capitalized on friendships and educational opportunities; I squandered creative and educational opportunities that came my way in my late teens and early 20’s by going on a mission and by later getting married.

This isn’t a look back to regret my past decisions.  I’ve already gotten over the past and am thrilled with what I have now.  This speech last night spoke to my 45 year old self and motivated me to teach my kids to honor their inner voices.  Mormonism tries to squelch that by telling you very early on what you inner voice is telling you…

Like Lance, I grew up being told that I was unholy, unworthy and selfish because of something I’m certain I didn’t choose.  Deep inside I knew the characterizations of homosexuality preached over the pulpit and in pamphlets were wrong. So I let old men in Salt Lake City and in Bishop’s offices subjugate my inner voice.

I appreciate and honor Lance’s voice.  It is mature and strong. I know he is more correct and more genuine than anyone I allowed to lead me previously. This time, however, rather than follow Lance, I am proud to say I am simply going to join my budding inner voice with his and live my life unashamedly, honorably and expect equal treatment for ALL people – myself included.

I’m going to make sure my kids exercise their inner voices and at least see possibilities that extend beyond the suffocating walls and bubble of Mormonism or their neighborhood and even beyond my limited vision.

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