Thursday, July 23, 2009

A letter from Eddie

Eddie Barnes: a name from the past. I met Eddie in grade school. His dad ran the village's only pharmacy. Yes! It had a soda counter, when you could get a cherry or chocolate Coke, made step by step, where Eddie sometimes worked. Eddie was smart and talented but above all, Eddie was fun. He loved music and played piano like nobody's business, was a great dancer and managed the football team.

I sound like Eddie is no more, but Eddie's still here. He is a GLBT activist in Houston. For many years in San Francisco he was a volunteer chaplain at a city hospital. People who have not known him since grade school know him as Ed, and Ed sent me a letter I am printing here in full because, well, it doesn't hurt for us to be bitch-slapped into realizing its truth.

(Tobias Barrington Wolff was the GLBT liaison in Obama's presidential campaign.)

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I'm Ed Barnes and I was present at a luncheon prior to the Texas March 4, 2008 primaries here in Houston which you hosted for leaders of the GLBT community of Houston. In said luncheon you asked for our endorsement and to vote for "Barack" as you referred to him on a first-name basis.

I want you to know that I have given approximately $500 to Obama's campaign. I stood out in the weather for two weeks at the March 4 primary early voting center in Houston (at the West Gray Multi Purpose Center) and handed out fliers for Obama. I repeated the two weeks for the Nov election as well. I also worked election day in front of my precinct 34 here in Houston 6:30am to closing polls.

I was so impressed with your presentation of Obama and one of the things you said to us: that if Obama were elected president he would issue an executive order to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". My impression was Obama would indeed live up to his promises. This was further installed in my mind when Obama had an hour-long conference call with the board of the Houston GLBT political caucus. As you know, the Houston GLBT caucus then endorsed him.

I felt excited and elated that finally we gay people would be treated fairly. You told us you were the GLBT liaison to Obama's administration. I was thrilled for the first time in my life to be a part of a candidate's campaign.

Then suddenly, the request to use the so called Evangelist Rev Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Obama's Inaugural. I cannot tell you how shocked and saddened I was at this action of Obama's. What an insult -- to say the least -- to GLBT people.

Secondly, I am still waiting on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" termination by his aforementioned promise of an executive order.

Tobias, I am 65 years old and have been a political activist all my life. I was hosed in Berkeley during the anti-Vietnam war protests and marched in every GLBT parade when I lived in San Francisco. Worked early voting centers for GLBT rights and Houston GLBT caucus-endorsed candidates. I've glued enough envelopes for the GLBT caucus here in Houston but thankfully the glue has not shut my mouth, probably much to your dismay.

I have lived with HIV with good health for over five years now. However, I do have a heart condition brought on by chemo with the elimination of Karposi's Sarcoma. I now, being retired, volunteer as a patient mentor at our HIV Thomas Street Clinic here in Houston.

What I'm trying to say to you is I'm awfully tired of politicians who "gay bait". Obama to me is a true picture of this now. I feel like a fool because I never spent a cent on anyone's campaign until his. I'm so saddened that I may die with my heart condition with the status quo for GLBT people still without human rights on an equal basis.

Many of us here in Houston, Texas have been fighting for rights of GLBT folks all our lives. Keep in mind that the Lawrence sodomy case came, and was set up, by GLBT folks right here in Houston.

So in effect, please tell Mr. Obama that I am just fucking pissed off with the usual "gay baiting" bullshit practiced by him and his predecessor Bill Clinton when he then approved DOMA.

I'm tired, Tobias, and have lost all faith in politics. Saddened and genuinely hurt by Obama's political promises of equality of GLBT folks. He pure and simply gay baited. Know that many in Houston's community are angry and we don't forget.

As for myself, I feel much better in telling you that you were a part of the gay baiting process or you've been duped like the rest of us. Please don't let me go out of this life feeling this way. Again I'm just so saddened and angry. Do you really think he will deliver for us? We've certainly been moved by his promises but prioritized on the back burner, which appears to not even be lighted.

Edward R. Barnes
606 Harold Street #14
Houston, TX 77006

Back into my MacroMicro voice again. Look, I'm something of a political animal and I understand the need for compromise. But human rights are not a place for compromise. This is first, foremost, and maybe even only a human rights issue.

The Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask, Don't Tell are blatant discrimination against people's most inrooted, basic natures. GLBT people can no more become "straight" than straight people can become GLBT. You are who you are.

You who say you don't know any GLBT people? I say, examine your life. Someone close to you is in a closet. You are keeping that person there. Your insistence that someone fit your description of normal is denying that person's basic reality. Is that love, keeping someone else from being their fully realized human self? All the reasons you may have are human constructs. Whatever God may be sees only our perfect selves.

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