I’ve lamented the loss of my generation’s energy in today’s public debates on critical issues like climate change and gun laws. We ended segregation in the South and the war in Viet Nam. As college students sat in segregated restaurants in Alabama and marched en masse on the Pentagon. When I came out in 1972, I believed we were changing America, and gay liberation was the next logical step after women got their rights. I foresaw a better America with equality for all. Then Nixon. Jimmy Carter was well-intention-ed and honorable, but he was no match for Reagan and the dishonest Republicans who with Trump have now come back full force and even more dishonest.
Every time I hear another student speak at the marches across America today, including my home town of Wausau, Wisconsin, where the local Representative, Trump supporter Sean Duffy, offered a lame statement about curing mental illness, I feel that energy is coming back to the public square These young men and women are clear on the issues involved in gun violence, they speak eloquently about what they’ve gone through, and say they are not going away.
If they follow through with what they say, they will make the next election a referendum on the NRA and the GOP’s backwards ways of thinking. My generation took our achievements for granted, and we didn’t build the political infrastructure necessary to keep making progress, so instead the next generation that bought BMW’s and went to discos had their agenda, and while we were savoring our achievements in our tie-dyed T-shirts, their views counted in every election.
To those students, I say, Go for it!!! And don’t get sidetracked.