Tag Archives: heroism

Hero of the Week Award: May 24, Eileen Peterson

24 May

RacismI need to say a huge thank you to friend, activist, and LGBT ally, Bruce Kestelman for nominating Eileen for HWA.  Honestly, Bruce needs to also be celebrated as HWA also for many of the same reasons we are celebrating Eileen.

Standing up for Social Justice seems like it would just be obvious and easy.  Working to ensure space for equity and equality and treating all humans with dignity and respect feels like it should be a no brainer.  Sadly, this is not the case.  I suspect all of us have too often witnessed very ugly behavior on different social media sites around human and civil rights issues.  I know I have seen my fair share of awful, nasty, ugly behavior on Facebook and on LinkedIn around the issues of racial equity and marriage equality.  Garbage that I will not bother to repeat here spews forth from the foaming mouths and frantic fingers of bigots everywhere.

Delightfully, within all of this muck there are gems I find that need to be celebrated.  People with tenacity, grace, and perseverance that gracefully — and at times with great wit — work hard to interrupt oppression.   Eileen Peterson is someone who does not shy away from social justice issues.  I admit that there have been times when comments get so ugly, I throw my hands up in despair and walk away from interrupting oppressive comments.  I recently read a thread on LinkedIn regarding marriage equality and I have to say that Eileen Peterson won my heart over.  She does not use accusatory or inflammatory language, but she does try to hold people accountable for their behavior and she asks great clarifying questions that help to expose they hypocrisy within people’s arguments.

Today I felt the need to celebrate the individual and collective voices that work with great respect and dignity to interrupt oppression.  Everyday people like Eileen, Bruce, Jennifer Carey, and the amazingly large list of friends I have had the honor and privilege to know in the past two years, need to be celebrated for their dedication to social justice and fierce determination to eradicate racism, homophobia, misogyny, and poverty. I applaud you all!

Honorable mention this week goes to the Peace Corps. Reversing a long-standing discriminatory practice, the Corps announced this week that it will allow same-sex couples to apply for joint service. Married heterosexual couples have been able to do so all along. The Peace Corps could have waited for DOMA to fall; instead, they took a proactive step and will usher in equality starting next month. Nicely done!

True Christmas Heroes in Connecticut

26 Dec
True Heroes

True Heroes

One of the few bright spots about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary has been the stories of heroism emerging from the dark events. Most people are familiar with the bravery of the faculty and staff, some of whom lost their lives defending their charges. Great credit goes to the first responders as well, especially the Newtown Police and the local medical examiners. They faced a horror the likes of which most people can never truly imagine and did their jobs with quiet grace and dedication. Between investigating the killings, serving as honor guards at the far too many funerals, and carrying out their usual duties, Newtown police have been working exhausting hours, even with the capable aid of the Connecticut State Police.

Enter the holiday spirit. On Christmas Day, Newtown police Sgt. Steve Santucci released this message:

Patrol officers and sworn personnel will be given the day off to be home on Christmas. Officers from surrounding towns will be patrolling Newtown.

One of the organizers, Lt. Bob Kozlowsky of the Shelton police department said “It’s a police thing.” His chief went to Newtown to pitch in as many other officers from around the area pitched in all the duties necessary to keep Newtown safe. Meanwhile, exhausted Newtown police were given the day to celebrate and relax with their families, something especially important to them this year.

The substitute police tried to keep the story quiet, wanting it to be a gift, not a press release. When it was leaked, they just went quietly about their business. Most of the volunteers either refused to accept pay or donated their one-day check to Newtown and Sandy Hook charities. In a year where public employees have been much maligned by Teahadists and union busters, this story is just one more example of the true dedication exemplified by most public servants.

Our usual Bigot of the Week and Hero of the Week stories will be suspended this week for the top 5 Hero and Bigot of the Year awards. This story, however, was just too wonderful to pass by. Enjoy your holidays, however you celebrate them.

Hero of the Week Award: August 24, Bob Kerrey

24 Aug

Hero of the Week

In light of some of the awful excuses for humanity who are running for the Senate this year, it’s a pleasure to celebrate a quiet, determined hero who hopes to recapture his Senate seat. Bob Kerrey was Senator from Nebraska from 1989 to 2001. A centrist on many issues from a bright red state, he’s an unlikely champion for gay rights. Nonetheless, he has been a staunch supporter of LGBT equality throughout his career. He was one of only 14 Senators to vote against DOMA in 1996 and one of the few who truly risked his re-election by doing so.

Kerrey retired from politics in 2001. When Sen. Ben Nelson (who won Kerrey’s old seat) announced his retirement this year, Kerrey decided to use his statewide reputation and clout to return to the Senate and hold the seat for the Democrats. With his success far from certain, it might make sense for him to at least keep his pro-gay opinions to himself while campaigning. But he doesn’t. Not only that, he usually brings up the issue himself. Kerrey was recently profiled in the New York Times for his steadfast support.

He brings up gay marriage anyway. Not every day, but on many of them. Not in response to voters’ questions, but at the prodding of his own conscience. I got the feeling that his advisers would like him to stop — and that he knows he’d probably be wise to. But here’s the thing: he’s 68. This race to reclaim [his] Senate seat … could be his last. And if he’s going to go down, he told me, he wants to go down fighting for what’s right and for what he truly believes. That means making a pitch for gay marriage.

“What I usually say is, ‘Let me talk to you about the issue of homosexuality,’ ” Kerrey said over a drink here Saturday night. And then he indeed talks to voters about it, telling them that people are born the way they are and deserve a full complement of civil rights, including the right to marry. It’s that simple. “People who are opposed to it are going to have to be explaining to their grandkids: why, why, why was that the rationale?” he said. “We’re going to be embarrassed in 25 years.”

What delightful insight, courage, and integrity. Let’s hope this unassuming champion is rewarded with a return to the Senate and a chance to help keep moving gay rights forward. With the party platform finally conforming to his vision, this could be his year.

Hero of the Week Award: July 27, Christian Bale

27 Jul

Hero of the Week

This week’s hero is another Celebrity Gone Right story. In the aftermath of the shootings in Aurora, CO, there were many heroes. First responders, police investigators, hospital personnel, and friends and family of the victims all did their part to minimize the horror of the situation. One man with a connection to the incident that was both central and peripheral was actor Christian Bale, star of the Batman feature playing in the theatre.

While it’s clear that Bale, DC Comics, and Warner Bros. have no direct responsibility for the actions of a crazed gunman, Bale decided to use his celebrity to engender some healing. Many studio executives, the director, and other actors made wonderful statements of condolence. Bale quietly went to Aurora and visited each of the victims. He also took time to visit hospital staff and some of the first responders. Warner Bros. made it clear that the decision to go to Aurora was Bale’s, not a publicity department arrangement. Bill Voloch, interim president of the Medical Center of Aurora noted the value of the visit.

It was good for the patients. We hope it was therapeutic for them, and all the staff really appreciated him coming.

It’s a simple thing, perhaps, but it shows a humanity that rarely gets celebrated in the hype of summer films or in the 15-minute celebrity status gained by the perpetrators of such crimes. Bale’s kindness was noted by comic aficionados, local, and national media.

Honorable mention this week goes to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Regular readers will know that TSM is hardly Reid’s biggest fan given his compromise and capitulate strategies when dealing with Senate Republicans. This week, however, Reid scored a major victory. In a deal with Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Rancid Tea Bag, KY), he got both a Democratic and Republican tax break bill onto the floor for a simple majority vote. With the filibuster removed, the Democratic plan passed (51 – 48!) while the Republican rich-get-richer plan failed. While the Senate bill, which extends middle class tax credits and the tax breaks for Americans making less than $250,000 per year, will be DOA in the House, Reid’s strategy crafted an important pre-election contrast between the governing priorities of the two parties. Nicely done, Senator!

The Titanic: A Very Different Love Story

15 Apr

Thank you to my dear friend Jay for inspiring me to write this story.  While I love Kate Winslet, I must confess I did not enjoy the movie Titanic, nor did the love story interest me.  However, there is a perspective I would like to share with TSM readers regarding an actual love story with a very sad ending and the sinking of the Titanic.

Major Archibald Butt, who was a military advisor for President Taft, saved many lives on the Titanic on April 15.  In fact, President Taft wept openly upon the news of Archibald Butt’s death.  Butt, during his lifetime, was the object of many cruel jokes regarding his name–a name now associated with courage and heroism. Sadly, Butt was able to save so many lives but he was not able to save the life of his spouse.

Too often stories of history leave out important details about people’s lives.  Our hero Archibald Butt was gay and had a long-time partner, Frank Millet. Millet graduated from Harvard and became an international war correspondent. Butt and Millet shared a home in D.C. where they lived a happy life together until their deaths aboard the Titanic.

The couple had set sail on the Titanic, but neither would return to America alive.  What is more sad, is that the couple did not have the chance to be together at the very end.  Butt was busy saving other people’s lives, and Millet was not seen before being lost to the cold sea.

I love this story because it reminds us that there are narratives that neglect to be told and are expunged from history, and I have the fortunate opportunity to share these stories.  Can you imagine how Butt and Millet’s story might affect LGBT youth?

Today, there is a memorial in Washington Square called the Butt-Millet Fountain.

Archibald Butt

For more detailed information and to see another great blog, click here.

%d bloggers like this: