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In Massachusetts at least, gay, lesbian, and transgender people — once a separate category stamped “LGBT” — have become fully mainstream. A Pride parade featuring same sex couples, lesbians on bikes, and beautiful trannys, is now a family day like any other parade. At the Salem parade yesterday I saw trannys with their parents, one pretty tranny had her nine year old daughter in tow (see the photo). Every elected official in the City was either at the parade or at the “Pride flag” raising a month ago.
It’s the same in Boston. There, Pride week featured a drag show, after which Mayor Walsh posed with the troupe for a photo op.
^ beautiful tranny Kelly with her proudly beaming young daughter
But the story that says it all comes from Salem. Yesterday, openly gay ward 4 City councillor David Eppley (see photo) told of how, knocking doors in last year’s city election, he introduced himself to an 80-year old lady at her door only to have that elderly woman say to him, “oh yes ! I’m voting for you. i met your husband at the polls in September !”
Just like that.
^ Salem City Councillor David Eppley (with Paisley Rojagato)
That gay, lesbian, and transgender people now know that they are filly accepted as neighbors, friends, partners, citizens, even elected officials, is a terrific thing for our community as a state. Because after all, people are people no matter what sort of gender or sexual preference life they lead. Gay, lesbian, and transgender people are parents, citizens, community volunteers — everything that anybody else is. And the people of Massachusetts have embraced it fully.
It seems so simple now, so obvious. But thirty years ago, for trans people, is wasn’t obvious, it wasn’t even thinkable. For gays, the same ostracism fifty years ago.
You don’t have to go back that far, though. Just ten years ago it was hugely controversial for Massachusetts to enact a marriage equality law. The spew of toxic hate leveled at gay people during that debate was sickening to see, to hear, to feel. A referendum was demanded, and only narrowly did the legislature refuse to offer one, siding with marriage equality supporters who said, correctly, that “our civil rights are not a matter of majority vote !”
Even more recently — just two, three, four years ago — an even more disgusting barrage of hate was shot at trans people testifying at the legislature’s hearings on a transgender rights law. One Kris Mineau, a name for us all to remember as we remember segregationists and anti-Semites, led a pressure group that captured the votes of 32 of 33 GOP house members in opposing the transgender rights law that was enacted. that same 32 even wrote an open letter to the Governor asking that the new law not be enforced.
The hate did not end there. this winter our state’s GOP state committee adopted a platform — the vote was reportedly 56 to 12 — affirming “traditional marriage.’ Of transgender rights, it said nothing : because the state committee does not accord trans people any such rights.
Yes, the Chairman of the state GOP, Kirsten Hughes, rejected the platform. And Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito, running for governor and lieutenant governor, have made it known in the most definite words and ways available, their full embrace, legally and otherwise, of gay, lesbian, and trans people. Yet it was depressing that Baker and Polito felt the need to do so — though clearly they did have to.
But things in this arena have changed almost day by day. Six months ago, a gay GOP candidate was thought bold simply to be openly gay. Now, Richard Tisei, running for Congress in the 6th District, posts a campaign ad featuring his husband, Bernie Starr. Tisei stole the show at Salem Go out Loud’s equality Forum on Friday night — how could he not ? And in attendance were GOP activists long known to me, men and women who would not that long ago have avoided such a venue for such a purpose.
The state’s GOP is even becoming trans friendly. It helps that there is at least one totally public trans person among its activists. I think, in fact, that the smartest GOP activists are glad to know that their ranks include a public tranny. They know that today inclusion is the dynamic, trans the thing to be — Laverne Cox of “Orange Is the New black” really has tipped the point; but this point had already been surging even without her, as drag shows become the rage — drag kids the fad — in every city, town, suburb, and burg of our state.
Gender and sexual preference remain huge issues for people living with them; but today they’re no more a matter for legal or social exclusion than a teenager’s acne or a young adult’s loss of a limb or lung. We’ve learned to live with people as they are, not just as they are supposed to be; and that’s a good thing, a very VERY good thing indeed.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere