Author Lou Pizzitola was worried. “I have a sneaky suspicion that they will be downplaying the gay at the convention,” the author wrote in an e-mail to me on Facebook, “. . . and no one (gays included) seems to care.” That was the day before the speeches began at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. By Thursday night it was crystal clear that Pizzitola’s concern was unfounded.
Speaker after speaker expressed their support for same-sex marriage and the overall notion that gay men, lesbians, bisexual and transgender
Americans deserve the respect and dignity that come with full equality. In word or on screen, every time there was a mention of the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” or marriage equality in the Time Warner Cable Arena, there was a roar of approval.
And such expressions of support didn’t just come from gay or lesbian speakers. From Newark Mayor Cory Booker to President Obama and just about everyone in between, concern for LGBT people and their families was woven seamlessly into the narrative of a welcoming America. Nearly 45 years after Frank Kameny gave us “Gay is good,” an act of rhetorical defiance akin to “Black is beautiful,” a major national political party agreed.
“In prior conventions, we’ve had one speaker or two speakers that might talk at 5 o’clock or 6 o’clock, non-prime time,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin, as we exited the arena after Obama’s speech on Thursday. “But the issues of equality and dignity were integrated every single day and every single speaker. That is a notable shift in this country, and I think from this point forward we’ll never see anything other than that.”
Griffin is right. The Democratic Party platform explicitly supports LGBT equality. The Republican Party platform explicitly does not. But with young and conservative Republicans, as well as deep-pocketed GOPers on the right side of history, it’s only a matter of time before equality for LGBT Americans is a political no-brainer.
As for Pizzitola, he wanted to hear more about where Obama would take the country in terms of gay rights if he gets another term. In fact, he wanted a gay-specific address in prime time. One akin to women’s health and choice given by Sandra Fluke. “I recognize the progress” that’s been made, Pizzitola told me in a subsequent e-mail, “but gays should remember that their pushiness as some describe [it] is in part responsible for the progress.” Can’t argue with that.