ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON

With President Obama and the Democrats meeting in North Carolina this week I am reminded of the convention I attended in Miami Beach in July of 1972. I was a young man of 22 looking forward to voting for the first time in a Presidential election. This was also the first Presidential election after the ratification of the 26th amendment to the Constitution lowering the voting age to 18. I was excited, keyed up and convinced I could make a difference.

Allen Ginsberg (red striped shirt) sits with the California delegation at the 1972 Democratic Convention


Forty years ago I was still struggling with my sexuality and it would be another 11 years before I would gain the self – acceptance needed to come out of the closet. There were a myriad of new voices being heard at the 1972 Democratic Convention and the gay voice of Jim Foster and the lesbian voice of Madeline Davis were among them. Unfortunately I didn’t hear them because I didn’t have a ticket for the session when they hashed out the platform.


A young Jesse Jackson at the 1972 Democratic National Convention


It was exciting to be part of the political process and see in person the people that making the laws of the land. Having worked very hard for the McGovern campaign I was glad to have the opportunity to see and hear in person the convention proceedings.

Representative Bella Abzug (D-NY-19) speaks to a reporter on the floor of the 1972 Democratic Convention in Miami Beach, Florida


Forty years later I still feel the same way I did when I got to vote for the first time. I am excited about this election because I believe it will determine how we look forward to future. I am keyed up because the Republican platform stands to rollback the gains minorities, women and the LGBT community have made over the pass 40 years and we can’t allow that to happen. I am still convinced my vote can make a difference. 

Photos from the collection of Bill Wilson

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