“We need a revolution for the people – for the poor, for [those] who have nothing! The politicians and the rich, they’ve already got it all! What do they need?” — Stonewall veteran, Sylvia Rivera at the 2001 NTAC Board meeting in Washington DC

It seems just like old times. Admittedly I’ve been jaded after a decade plus of political activism, with nothing to show for it other than broken nails, broken dreams, broken promises and a broken spirit. Yet just like the old war-horse that everyone presumes is out to pasture, as soon as I hear the battle bell and become inspired, I’m back in the game just as before. This inspiration came from the same source that appears to be inspiring the country, the likes of which haven’t been seen since JFK.

This inspiration is Barack Obama.

So it was that I’ve been wearing out one of my two good pair of Nikes hitting my precinct to get folks to the post-election caucus, and on a Saturday night spending in the heart of Houston’s gayborhood bar district, pushing folks to vote and then go back to the post-primary caucus to elect delegates. Frankly it’s been two very different tales from my suburban precinct here in wild, wild West Houston, and the tony, elite progressive environs of the Montrose.

From my home precinct, one I chaired until 2005 (when economics demanded I start focusing on my own housekeeping before I lost the house I was keeping) it’s been pretty inspiring a response so far. This was a raw meat-red precinct when I took chair in 1999, and it would be another four years before this transitional spot began the domino flipping of red-to-blue in my area. When I turned the chair over to my successor, I never presumed we would have a situation where Texas would ever matter in a presidential primary selection. We never had before.

“These vagabond shoes
Are longing to stray
And make a brand new start of it
New York, New York!” — New York, New York, Frank Sinatra

You gotta love New York!

Seriously, these folks know how to speak out against what is wrong, organize and create a disturbance that’s worthy of the biggest city in the nation. I’m writing in response to the Gay City News.com report coming from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Banquet in the Big Apple. They organized not just street protests, but even support from their political friends to boycott the chi-chi event in solidarity with the trans community over HRC’s support for a non-inclusive ENDA bill pushed by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).

Yes, Sylvia Rivera and Bob Kohler would be duly proud of their community’s progeny.

Most of the article dealt with the notable absentees from the banquet, most especially the politicos (one of which was to present an award at the event). A few did offer the ENDA and HRC’s threats of keeping score of those voting against a gay-only ENDA in principle (due to it’s incomplete coverage).

One statement from Marriage Equality New York (MENY) about its award noted that “HRC’s stance on ENDA is clearly not in-line with our inclusive mission and disappoints those who believe we cannot leave anyone behind” and that the group “has ALWAYS been trans-inclusive and has always stood on the right side of this civil rights fight.”

In accepting their award at the HRC banquet, the group’s deputy executive director, Ron Zacchi, said, “MENY feels for our transgender brothers and sisters protesting outside, as we have often been the people protesting outside because incremental changes were accepted on our road to marriage equality.”

That’s a very powerful statement, and I applaud MENY for taking such a bold stance.

Then I got to thinking about who the statement was from. When you think about it, there’s not much of a limb they have to go out on with that beyond risk of possible funding from HRC. It would be pretty hard to push through any legislation for marriage equality for gays and lesbians without have it being inclusive of transgenders – or anyone else. On the inclusive part, I don’t know about their staff or board of directors but I wonder how many of them are transgender?

“Love cannot be defeated.” as said to rock vocalist, Bono by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA)

The political group I belong to – the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) – noted the passing of longtime Rep. Tom Lantos in a press release on Monday from complications due to esophageal cancer. Chances are, most of the transgender community was unfamiliar with congressman Lantos – but they should’ve been. Our press release characterized him as a “hero for the oppressed and voiceless of the world” and a hero specifically for the transgender community.

Those superlatives were not merely rhetoric.

The San Francisco-area congressman was honored in a memorial service on Capitol Hill yesterday, with an emotional farewell that encompassed both conservatives and liberals, from the U.S. Sec. Of State, Condolleeza Rice, to Sec. Gen. Of the United Nations, Ban-Ki Moon to ambassador of goodwill, rock group vocalist, Bono (Paul Hewson) of U2. Holocaust Survivor, Death Camp Escapee, a Penniless Émigré from Hungary to the United States, Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives, champion for human rights causes around the world.

“Tom Lantos was a true American hero. He was the embodiment of what it meant to have one’s freedom denied and then to find it and to insist that America stand for spreading freedom and prosperity to others,” — Sec. Of State Condolleeza Rice.

Indeed I was blessed to have had the opportunity to lobby Lantos’ office on a couple of occasions. Unlike some supposedly trans-supportive offices, they were more than merely perfunctory. The staff always exhibited concern that felt genuine, even being candid with us (something that doesn’t happen as frequently as one might presume). This year’s visit was a perfect example as Lantos was not signed on as co-sponsor for the inclusive version of ENDA (HR 2015), to which I questioned his Judiciary Committee Asst, Michael Beard. Merely an oversight, was his response – and sure enough, Lantos was shortly thereafter a co-sponsor. They “walked the walk.”

“This is a story of the lives and loves, and hopes and dreams, of young Batswana [sic] in the context of the changing cultural norms and values of modern times. Each of the dancers are shaped and challenged by the forces upon them: love, power, money, lust, and authority. They must choose their destiny by making difficult choices and search for what they truly believe in.” — plot summary for the documentary, Re Bina Mmogo (2004)

It’s been a really blue funky week and a half for me. Seeing John Edwards drop out of the race just over a week ago, I’m left with nothing but second choices for the upcoming presidential election. I feel as if I’m wakening from a really bad hangover.

My personal preference was for a presidential candidate who would address the rampant inequities, to eliminate poverty and end the disenfranchisement and disparity in this entitlement-oriented society. The last thing I wanted was a choice of gatekeepers for the corporate power stranglehold status quo.

With my last best hope for that out of the campaign at virtually the same time my job ended, it’s been consideration time over the two primary candidates who are left.