Arts & Entertainment
'Family' Ties: A Way Forward
A Networking Possibility Takes Hold
Originally printed 1/3/2013 (Issue 2101 - Between The Lines News)
My grandpa died Sept. 8 of this year. The same day my Grandma turned 82. They were married for 64 years. While it was difficult for him to hang on that last week, I believe he wanted to tell my grandma happy birthday one last time before he left us. My grandmother was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit at Hurley Medical Center yesterday. It does not look good. She seemed so relatively healthy when my grandfather passed away just three months ago. The Japanese call it Takotsubo, or "Broken Heart Syndrome." Personally, I don't know. It's her kidneys that are failing her today not her heart... though no doubt her heart is broken as ours continues to break.
My grandpa and grandma taught us the value of love and loyalty. While we often argue amongst the vast number of aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings, we have one another's backs. My grandfather would often hear stories of other families who haven't spoken for years and he would shake his head and simply say, "That's not right." In his last days he reminded us many times (not that he needed to) his hope that we would all stay together and that our disagreements and arguments would never drive any permanent wedges between us.
As the lone-out-gay-anti-Catholic-atheist-kid in a large, Mexican American family, believe me when I tell you, there have been some strong disagreements. Still, I love my family deeply. My cousins, sisters, brother, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents are my closest friends and confidants.
Often in the LGBT community I hear the word "Family." Because so many were thrown out of their homes or estranged from their birth families, many LGBT folks have had to create their own. Today my friends and I still say, "Is so-and-so family?" when asking if they are LGBT.
The biggest challenge and threat to our future is not the conservative Michigan Legislature - archaic, embarrassing, and asinine as they are. It is not Gary Glenn or the Westboro Baptist Church. It is not the Pope, Dick Devos, or Leviticus.
It is us.
Many times I have witnessed people walk away from the LGBT table or an established LGBT organization because they disagree with one or two actions that organization has made. Affirmations can do a hundred things right, but because a donor has a problem with one of the decisions I make, he or she pulls all funding. Members may take advantage of many of Affirmations' mental health services, or social activities, but because they didn't like the "Hungry for Equality Campaign," the "Gay Families Matter Rally," or a quote of mine in the paper - they badmouth us.
We are not perfect. I for damn sure am not perfect. The Community Centers Network is not perfect, nor any executive director at the helm of those centers. Our allied/cousin organizations like Equality Michigan, the ACLU and Between The Lines are not perfect. Nor are any of us above criticism. Constructive criticism is not what angers me. What angers me is that I see so much energy spent to argue and fight one another, while people who truly could care less if we vanished from this planet exist in this world.
The Community Centers Network is a huge step in the right direction because we must all start working together more effectively and intentionally if we are going to achieve full equality for the LGBT community. Arguments can be good and often necessary. Differences in opinions about LGBT political priorities such as marriage, adoption, workplace discrimination, sexual freedom, gender identity and equity exist. Let us respectfully argue and disagree and fight it out within our own locker room.
If we are truly a strong family ... if we mean that word when we speak it. .. we will never walk away from the table. We will never take our ball and go home. We will never pull funds or trash one another behind our collective backs. We will behave as my brother and I did as kids when we could be arguing one minute and then fighting shoulder to shoulder the next if one or the other was threatened.
We have real enemies and a long, but ever closer, way to go to realize full equality. We will only get there together as one imperfect, but loyal, family... scars, mistakes, and all.
Rosa Ena Garcia, Antonio David Garcia's grandmother, passed away the same evening Garcia sent his submission to BTL. The BTL staff asks readers to keep the family in their thoughts and prayers. Read about the Gay Families Matter rally in Jan. 2012 at http://gaybe.am/y2. Read about the Hungry For Equality campaign leading up to the Nov. elections at http://gaybe.am/y3.Antonio David Garcia currently serves as Executive Director at Affirmations community center in Ferndale. For more information about Affirmations, go to http://www.GoAffirmations.org.
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