Here it is one year since LGBT-Today began publication and so many things have happened both good and bad.
Under the category of good we collected a majority of the original staff that Jack Nichols prized so much as friends and valued contributors to the activist community.
People like Raj Ayyar, Dr. James T. Sears, Rodger Streitmatter, Bob Kunst, Randy Wicker, Dr. Frank Kameny and Dr. Wayne Dynes. As of this month we’ve also added Paul D. Cain and Perry Brass, both are exquisite writers and historians of the LGBT community.
Rodger Streitmatter’s articles have brought many tears of joy particularly over his wedding to his longtime partner and now his husband, Tom. His description of the words his daughter said as a toast during his reception was more than the “MasterCard Commercial” indicated by Rodger’s title.
Bob Kunst’s remembrance of his battle with Anita Bryant was recited in his editorial of February of this year and that’s priceless history. Bob’s history of involvement in activism is long and deep in both the Jewish community and the LGBT community and we greatly value his involvement with us.
Randy Wicker is the person who makes me smile. He views the world in a way that is almost child-like but also shows us that there is a significant need for those who have lived through generations of change to view our present LGBT world. As Randy puts it, he’s “Trans-age”, and I believe that’s a very apt description of how he views the present activist movement. His contributions to our world are very significant and his participation is highly prized here at LGBT-Today.
Raj Ayyar is our guiding light. He views the universe from all metaphysical angles and sees the LGBT community as just another spoke in the giant wheel our world, neither separate nor different from heterosexuals. He gives us a different opinion to view that we are merely all components of a larger picture that we should not be angry with those who oppose us but try to show them understanding in the hopes that we can generate understanding from them. Perhaps he’s right.
Dr. Wayne Dynes, although only submitting sporadically, is a brilliant man whose insights into the LGBT culture span not only the United States but the entire world. When I began LGBT-Today it was my hope that I would cover the entire world and Dr. Dynes gives us that insight. I am so honored to know him and although he can be a bit gruff at times no one can deny his intellect or his knowledge. I’m proud to have him as a contributor.
Dr. James T. Sears has been a bit busy to submit any articles lately but that’s because he and his husband are hard at work in South America trying to establish retirement communities for LGBT senior citizens because he is making a stand about the conditions that older LGBT people have to endure here in the United States. I expect that he will have something to say soon.
With a lot of grief we said goodbye to one of the activist community’s, and LGBT-Today staff writer, Dr. Frank Kameny, who passed away on October 11, 2011 just short of our first anniversary. Frank was a highly focused person that wouldn’t stop once he set his mind on a task and his life was interwoven with Jack Nichols whom this magazine is dedicated to his activist ideals and therefore also the ideals of Frank’s. We will miss Frank greatly.
Over this past year we’ve had to endure the yardstick of being ignored by a good many “mainstream” homosexual publications who measure the success of any other publication based upon their ability to draw advertising dollars. It’s true that LGBT-Today has no income and as editor/publisher I’ve had to pay for the continued publishing of it out of my own pocket.
I’ve been tempted at times to ask for donations but when I thought about it I realized that if I did that then I would just draw more criticism. I would be called a failure by those who sit and wish to pick my bones and there have been a lot of that over the past year.
Younger members of the LGBT community have called me an “old, ugly lesbian who lives in the past”, and the more successful writers of the mainstream LGBT media are quick to jump on me for the smallest mistake.
One past friend of Jack Nichols suggested that I live in the shadow of giants. That one disturbs me more than anything because from the very beginning I never said I was a replacement for Jack. I seek no fame or fortune for myself and I certainly expect no biographies to be written about the old, ugly lesbian.
This month we added LGBT historians Paul D. Cain and Perry Brass. Both were close friends of Jack Nichols and have documented the United States gay civil right movement. Their writing styles are complex and rich with insight not only into our past but how that past effects our present and future.
During the past year there were many months that I toiled with only contributions from Rodger Streitmatter and babblings from myself. Let me make it clear that I regarded my writings as “filler” and felt guilty about each and every one of them. I am no Jack Nichols, to paraphrase Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s comment to Vice President Dan Quayle. I never intended to be.
In the past few months I’ve had the honor of conversing with genuine heroes of the LGBT activist community on an email list and I’ve gotten a crash-course in history I never thought possible.
People like Billy Glover, who once was connected to the ONE magazine and historical archives. Karen Ocamb, an award winning journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle, who’s insight into current affairs, is an inspiration to me. Ronald Tate, while not being a renowned activist, his desire to the truth through his job as an investigator for the State of California shows through in his search for postings of news stories on Facebook. I’m proud to know him as a friend. Brandon Wolfe, who has the same fascination with the truth of humanity and the LGBT community and posts a continuous stream of hard to find news stories that catch my interests and keep me on my toes. He also has a fascinating way of changing his icon constantly on Facebook which proves him to be a man with many facets.
There’s Martha Shelley who was one of the original members of The Daughters of Bilitis. She humbly says she only joined the organization in the beginning, “at that time I just wanted to meet women. Changing the world sort of grew out of that...” She seemed genuinely surprised when I told her that I was honored to know her.
LGBT-Today is growing and changing and as her editor/publisher I, too, am growing and changing.
A short time ago I was faced with the possibility that I might have cancer and thanks to the dispassion of the medical community I was left hanging with the question for several weeks and only recently found out that it wasn’t cancer.
I should have danced the jig in the middle of the street but having faced such a life changing event it left a mark on me that forever changed me a very metaphysical and fundamental way. I admit that I’ve always had a good deal of anger pent up but all of a sudden I don’t feel that anymore.
In those discussions on the email lists there are bound to be intellectual “differences” that can de-evolve into hostile posturing. I now feel the need to be a “peace-maker” and try to get these giant intellects to communicate more peacefully with each other so that opinions can be exchanged without the histrionics. I admit some selfishness in my motives. The less histrionics the more valuable history passes between these “Heavy Hitters” (as I’ve named them) in these emails and I’ve become the literal sponge in trying to learn as much as I can.
I honestly feel no anger in my spirit any longer. When my wife, Kathy, gets upset over some ordinary happening in life it feels like my soul is being dragged over a cheese grater. When we encounter boisterous or overly-dramatic ridden people in our lives I feel like I should draw into myself to avoid the stress and anger of others.
I feel as though my inner self has transformed into the manifesto Desiderata and it feels good to have found peace. Hopefully, this peace will reflect in my writing and if I could manage to get a sense of humor then I could “ape” Jack Nichols but I would never be him by any means. Jack had more peace in his soul and more boyish humor than any person I ever knew. I’ve never known anyone as comfortable with being gay, with being a gentle and loving individual.
When I started LGBT-Today I put a sign over my desk that playfully mimicked the Christian sign, “WWJD?”
In my case it stood for “What Would Jack Do?”
I still strive for the gentle perfection, the grace, the humor, and most of all the integrity that Jack brought to everything he did.
Please don’t hesitate to let me know whether we’re succeeding or failing. If we’re failing then I will try harder.
In the meantime, thank you for being a dedicated reader, and I hope that we will be even more interesting over the coming year where you won’t have to be bored to tears just reading my drivel.
By Stephanie Donald
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