New Beginnings

By T. Philip Perlman

Greetings from sunny Key West, Florida. Or as I lovingly call it, Fire Island South. One of my most favorite reasons to come here is that it is such an international destination. In the first day alone, I had an opportunity to speak to people from Germany, Holland and Austria about their views on the world. Eventually the conversation turns to the gay movement for equality and our total lack of it here.

America does a great job of carrying the torch for democracy, freedom and equality around the world. And we all too frequently exert our tremendous weight through economic measures. This can be seen in our trade negotiations where we insist countries like China and Saudi Arabia conform to our views on human decency if we are going to exchange goods. But the most amazing thing to me is that we speak about the moral high road to others, while at the same time continue to deny equal rights to gays and lesbians here. The European fellows I speak with are in disbelief that in this day and age we still can’t have our relationships recognized at the federal level. What is even more amazing is that for a government that’s supposed to be our moral compass and lead change through inspiration and fresh ideas, they continue to remain silently homophobic. I feel so blessed to live in an era when I could witness the rise of our first black president, ending one of the barriers of equality in our society. And I pray we are next.

Last month I had the pleasure of sharing my identity with you, but this column will be my last. In every life there comes a time when you have to heed the call of a new mission. What worries me more these days is the crumbling state of the world economy and I wonder what will be left of our way of life in its wake for gay and straight alike. I worry about the world the next generation will inherit from us. In response, I’ve started an organization called to champion a return to prosperity through renewed sense of confidence and responsibility. This is a journey we can all join regardless of sexual orientation. It is with deep emotion that I pass the torch to a new luminary, and look forward to his/her even greater contributions into the future.