Sunday, October 09, 2016

Our Stories Make A Difference

I was at a meeting Thursday night where the LGBT community was invited to come in and tell us your concerns and where we should focus our legislative and community activism. One of the attendees was the head of Love Makes a Family and she said the most powerful tool they had to pass the marriage bill was “telling our stories.”
‘Uptight’ straight Republican: How a lesbian couple opened my eyes to discrimination
Miami Herald
By Christopher Moffatt, RPH
October 4, 2016

I’m a 260 pound, six-foot-tall, bald, straight, white, uptight, father of six, Republican, NRA card-carrying, beer-drinking guy. I’m the last person anyone expects to be an LGBT ally. But I am.

My wife, Christa, and I own a home-care agency called Generations at Home in St. Petersburg. Our experience with a 76-year-old lesbian couple opened our eyes to the kind of discrimination LGBT older people face on a regular basis. I want to share their story because no one, gay or straight, should have to suffer the indignities of discrimination as they age.

Annie and Annette were happily together for 42 years, mostly in New York City. They would tell me fascinating stories of the old days when bar raids were common, and they could not live openly as a couple. Annette kept them safe using techniques her relatives in Poland had used when fleeing from the Nazis.
Annie and Annette settled into their new building as “cousins.” Under this cover, they made a lot of friends and went to tons of activities. They joined a social group for former members of the military and another for native New Yorkers, who would watch baseball games together — they were Mets fans.
When they shared the news of their marriage with their tablemates at dinner, it was like they had a communicable disease. No one would sit or talk with them. They were completely ostracized. They didn’t even want to take the elevator from their apartment to the lobby in order to get mail, because standing in the elevator with their former “friends” was too painful. Being lesbians, and married ones at that, was an affront to the rest of the residents. The owners of the facility did nothing to address the situation and the couple only had each other, and their caretakers, for company.

Annie died of a heart attack in September and Annette couldn’t live alone because she suffers from Alzheimer’s. As we made call after call to find her an assisted living facility, four facilities declined to admit Annette after we told them she had just lost her wife. She now lives in a small assisted living facility and I ended up inheriting and taking care of Annie’s cats, even though I’m allergic.
People like Annie and Annette who have worked hard their entire lives, who have raised children, who have given back to their communities — they deserve to be treated fairly and kindly. That’s why I support updating our nondiscrimination laws to protect gay and transgender Floridians — so thousands of LGBT older people have the same chance as anyone to grow old with dignity. That’s what Annie and Annette should have had. That’s what I want for my mom, for my wife, for myself. Don’t we all want and deserve that respect?
It is our stories that make a difference!

When we come out and just tell people what we have to put up with every day in our life it changes people.

When I went out speaking with Love Makes a Family back in 2009 for our gender inclusive bill LMF was winding down because of the CT Supreme Court ruling on marriage and the bill in the CT legislature was on its to being passed. After I told the audience about how I was harassed at one of those oil change places, a lesbian couple came forward and said, “How can we help?”

Do you want to help?

We will be holding more discussion on where you want us to concentrate our political action. Homelessness? Conversion therapy legislation? Anti-Gay/Trans panic legal defense legislation?

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