As an Afro-American male, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say that I’d be proud to have Colin Powell as my President (and, obviously, as yours as well). I think he represents what’s best about America and just coincidentally happens to be an Afro-American (or if you prefer, an African-American) himself.
As a gay male, however, I am disquieted by Gen. Powell’s dual nature about gays in the military service. On the one hand, there is the General’s public persona where he claims that gays and lesbians would be disruptive to the military services. On the other, there is the private persona where, if I am to believe what I am told, he openly accepts gay military on his staff. Now, I understand the necessity of having a public persona and a private persona. However, to have such diametrically opposed views as these seem to be seems to me to be a cause for concern.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to meet and listen to David Mixner, whom you may recognize as President Clinton’s advisor on gay and lesbian issues. (I hesitate to describe Mr. Mixner as that considering how Mr. Clinton has treated him since the inauguration.) Mr. Mixner stated that gay and lesbian politicos will be meeting with Gen. Powell to determine what his stand is on issues important to the gay and lesbian community. Mr. Mixner feels that, although the President has been a firm (albeit invisible) supporter of the community, we should not put “all our eggs in one basket.” This is a sentiment to which I wholeheartedly agree, as a gay man and a Black man. Mr. Mixner also stated that Sen. Dole, who had been a supporter of gay and lesbian equal rights recently returned a contribution, presumably so as not to appear beholden to the gay and lesbian community.
Of course, all of this is so much conjecture, but it gives us pause — time to reflect on the things that we should be doing with one year remaining before the presidential and Congressional elections. I, for one, will be reading Gen. Powell’s book, My American Journey (Random House, 1995). Realizing that the views that I am reading are distilled, I want to be able to understand where the man is coming from. Also, I’ll be looking into Mr. Clinton’s and Mr. Dole’s records regarding the things I heard about them as well. I’m already registered to vote, as you should be, and I participate in all national, state, and municipal elections, except party primaries as I am not a member of a political party.
I remember my awakening as a gay male in January, 1993 when President Clinton proposed the abolition of the ban on gay and lesbian military personnel. I also remember my disappointment when the President failed to appear at the 1993 March On Washington. And my disappointment when the government imposed their “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on the military. It seems that for as many moves as we make forward, we take as many in reverse.
The time is once again coming for us to step us and make our voices heard. Let’s do it intelligently from a position of knowledge. Let’s not do it from a position of fear and intimidation.
Ciao for now!