Magazine article Out

Editor's Letter

Magazine article Out

Editor's Letter

Article excerpt

Here's an image that I keep returning to as I try to figure out the purpose of the Out 100 at a time when many feel ambivalent about the extent to which our sexuality defines us: It is 1971 at the State University of New York in Binghamton, post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS, in a decade when you could say "gay liberation" without smirking. Two male students are striding hand in hand through the streets of this industrial town-one an African-American, the other a Jew, both in drag. They are Bill T. Jones and his boyfriend, Arnie Zane, who met at a coming-out party in the student union, and they are fearless.

I love that image, because in so many ways it's what this issue is all about-a celebration of accomplishment, certainly, but also of verve, courage, and principle. These are the men and women we took notice of in 2007, whose successes were achieved without sacrificing personal honesty. It may be easier to lead such open, confident lives these days, but that doesn't mean it's easy, and the longer I'm in this job the clearer that becomes to me. Jones, who we honor (page 79) for his achievements in the arts, has described himself as a child of potato pickers who wept at the Civil Rights Act of 1964, because they knew what it meant," and the question I keep coming back to is: Do we know what it means? Or do we simply take our successes-whatever they may be-for granted? As we were closing this issue, one of our editors received a call from his father, a vice principal at a high school in the Southwest. A gay student had killed himself a day after seeking counsel for his feelings of shame and although we cannot know the whys, we draw our own conclusions and weep.

It's been 35 years since Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane held hands in Binghamton, but there are still too many cities where such a simple act is an invitation for a beating, or worse. What value is gay marriage if people are fearful of holding hands? …

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