Be The Storm

“Fighting for justice, and winning, is what we know how to do. It’s one of the things we do best.” Excerpts from a speech by Lorri L. Jean, CEO, Los Angeles LGBT Center at “An Evening With Women,” last month. 

…When we gathered here last May, I began my remarks with a joke about Donald Trump. At the time, it was scarcely imaginable to most of us that he could actually become President. Now we’re four months into the Trump Administration…

… If they have their way with all the policies they hope to enact, what will our world look like in 4 years? How many people are going to languish or die because they don’t have healthcare? How many teenagers are going to get pregnant because they don’t have access to birth control? How many children will have their lives shattered because one of their parents has been deported? How many LGBT kids are going to suffer discrimination and violence in schools? How many LGBT adults are going to be denied vital services or even their jobs because of purported moral or religious objections?

“We should never sell ourselves short. Simply hunkering down for the next four years is not an option. We cannot allow timidity or fear or even the prospect of short-term failure to reduce our expectations or our demands. That kind of determination has been the key to our movement’s success thus far. And it is key to our future.”

I know we’re all worried about these issues and many others. That’s why there’s so much talk about resisting and fighting back. Working to ensure that the Administration in 2021 is not one that is hell bent on harming us… We must fight back. We must resist, no matter how hard it may be.

But tonight I’m here to remind us of a critically important fact: we cannot and must not operate solely from a frame of resistance. That is not how the women’s movement created a revolution. It is not how LGBT people came from the shadows to a place of pride. Focusing on resistance, alone, is not how we have literally changed the world.

No matter the obstacles we faced, no matter who was in power, we NEVER accepted the status quo or settled for crumbs. And we certainly have not been satisfied with simply trying to limit the damage being done to us…

… If I’ve learned anything over the years it’s that we should never sell ourselves short. Simply hunkering down for the next four years is not an option. We cannot allow timidity or fear or even the prospect of short-term failure to reduce our expectations or our demands. That kind of determination has been the key to our movement’s success thus far. And it is key to our future.

We have always fought for more than what the insiders and many outsiders advised. Often we’ve fought for more than what most even dreamed was possible. That has been our movement’s hallmark. In the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, we have always expected more.

We have demanded more. More freedom. More equality. More justice. For women and girls, for our LGBT community, and for all oppressed people.

We have always set our sights high and persevered, even in the most difficult times imaginable. In the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic, with death and devastation all around us, and the horrible backlash that followed against all LGBT people, we never let up. And in so doing, we’ve inspired others all over the world…

Fighting for justice, and winning, is what we know how to do. It’s one of the things we do best. In these difficult times, it’s critical to remind ourselves of that fact. We must remember not only that we are on the right side of history, but that we are fierce and resilient and inspiring. We must use that power to ensure we do more than simply weather the storm. We must BE the storm!

…We will organize our community and our allies elsewhere, in red and purple states, so that voices like ours will be heard—at town halls, school board meetings, polling places and everywhere that our rights and health are at stake. We will speak up and expose wrongs and hold the perpetrators accountable. And in 2018 and 2020, with regard to those who would have us regress to an America that was never great for people like us, we will send them packing!

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