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The Year in Preview

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We asked a few individuals across the community to identify challenges for 2004 or make predictions.

“I feel that the biggest challenge to the GLBT community in 2004 will continue to be apathy. It seems that people are just willing to accept the minor gains that the apparent success of some television shows (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Queer as Folk, Will & Grace, Ellen) and the Lawrence v. Texas case have brought and not look at a broader picture. Instead of championing the right to file a tax return together or go off to Iraq and kill or be killed, we should be working to make our streets safer to walk hand-in-hand with the ones we love. We should be working to make it so our places of employment can’t decide to fire us because we went to the Pride Parade. We should be working on it so that we aren’t kicked to the curb when your landlord finds out that your roommate actually shares your bedroom. We should be demanding the next phase in HIV/AIDS research, newer meds, and the beginnings of a cure or a vaccine. We should be caring for those made homeless because their family kicked them out or illness struck them down. We should be looking for the next generation of leadership, of activists to stand up and take the torch and help them to groom the generation that will follow them. We must remember and honor those who struggled to get us to where we are today, and we must honor and respect those who will lead us through the next issues. We need to support the organizations and businesses that are vital to our community before it is too late. Remember it is easier to maintain something than it is to rebuild or restart it. We need to get personal egos out of the way and make way for the community identity. We need to put the unity back in community. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “We must hang together or surely we will all hang separately.”

Chris Arasin
Chair, Q-Patrol, Inc.
Co-executive producer, After Hours


“AIDS is the world’s biggest threat—ever. We need to cure it. Until there’s a cure, AIDS is not over. In 2004, we have to reduce the number of new HIV infections. The gay community has done it before. We must do it again.”

Roger Donley
Attorney


“I predict the GLB community will wake up and realize we already have same sex-marriage in this country in 2004. I predict that upon realizing this fact HRC and others will learn to use this information to finally overcome the barriers that exist for gay marriage. (Hint: The trans community has had legal same-sex marriage since the beginning of time!)”

Sara Rook
The Transgender Unity Committee


“I predict that in 2004, despite fears of the “right backlash,” the issues facing the GLBT community will include:

• More states, cities, and organizations offically recognizing G/L civil unions and/or marriages;

• The defeat of the prohibitive adoptive laws in the state of Florida;

• An official “mayoral response” to the historically poor Houston police response to gay bashings in the Montrose.”

Tom Downing
Human Rights Campaign dinner co-chair


“Throughout the coming year, I believe that religion and the gay community will continue to dialogue and grow as God continues to re-create within our midst. 2004 will bring new considerations concerning the institution of marriage and faithful committed relationships of same-gender couples. The year should prove to be full of discovery as we create new relationships and open dialogue with other faith traditions and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Houston area concerning GLBT issues. On the national front, I wonder “who will ask?” and “who will tell?” as the presidential race heats up! Regardless of who wins, I hope that we will challenge our leaders to once again revisit persons living with HIV and make a greater effort to seek out a cure and support persons living with HIV. My hope is that the year will be full of compassion for those who are still seeking employment and just trying to make ends meet.”

Todd Williams
Minister, New Covenant Christian Church


“The greatest challenge to the community will be the continuing push toward full equality for all of those in the community. I think this will centralize around the issue of gay marriage and the profound step that the Massachusetts Supreme Court made in the last few weeks. All across the United States, members of our community will press their employers and state governments to respect a valid legal marriage from one of the 50 states. I fully expect this to be a huge issue in the coming race for president and ultimately a huge battle within the Supreme Court to decide if the members of our community are to be equal members of our society. I hope and pray that our community will be up to this magnificent challenge.”

Chris Thetford
President, Texas Human Rights Foundation


“I think the two biggest challenges we face are:

• The apathetic attitude of a majority of the community. I call it the “ask not what I can do for my community but what can the community do for me” attitude. The individuals who are involved carry a great load working on behalf of the rest.

• Coming together as a united community, focusing on the things we agree on and accepting our differences. We need to build more alliances between our own organizations to work together and better communicate with each other, and we must create efficiencies of effort through partnering with others both in and outside of our community. We’re all somebody’s son or daughter, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, boss or co-worker. We have allies and we need to put them to work on our behalf.”

Shane McShane
President, Houston GLBT Community Center

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