OBAMA SPEECH REACTION – ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON

BY BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson © 2009

I can’t pretend to be an objective political commentator, or a long time radical gay activist. I can only speak from my perspective. I was impressed with the President’s speech. I was impressed because I felt that the President understood my struggle.

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Joe Solmonese, Human Right Campaign President and US President Barack Obama.
Bill Wilson Photo © 2009

When he said, “Tonight, somewhere in America, a young person, let’s say a young man, will struggle to fall to sleep, wrestling alone with a secret he’s held as long as he can remember. Soon, perhaps, he will decide it’s time to let that secret out. What happens next depends on him, his family, as well as his friends and his teachers and his community. But it also depends on us — on the kind of society we engender, the kind of future we build.” He wasn’t just talking to me – he was talking about me.

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President Obama acknowledges crowd of 3,000 at HRC dinner.
Bill Wilson Photo © 2009

The first thirty-three years of my life I spent in the closet with no clue on how I could live a normal life. President Obama understands my path and my journey when he said, “That’s the story of the movement for fairness and equality, and not just for those who are gay, but for all those in our history who’ve been denied the rights and responsibilities of citizenship for all who’ve been told that the full blessings and opportunities of this country were closed to them. It’s the story of progress sought by those with little influence or power; by men and women who brought about change through quiet, personal acts of compassion — and defiance — wherever and whenever they could. It’s the story of the Stonewall protests, when a group of citizens with few options, and fewer supporters stood up against discrimination and helped to inspire a movement. It’s the story of an epidemic that decimated a community — and the gay men and women who came to support one another and save one another; who continue to fight this scourge; and who have demonstrated before the world that different kinds of families can show the same compassion in a time of need.”

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President Obama
Bill Wilson Photo © 2009

That the President understands my struggle gives me the assurance that when the Hate Crimes, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the repeals of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and Defense Of Marriage Act get to his desk he will sign then. It is our job to make sure they get that far.

See Related: ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON

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BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and Bay Area media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past five years. Email Bill Wilson at wfwilson@sbcglobal.net.

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