Helen Bonser – I’d Like You to Know

“It’s always been determination that’s got me through.”

I still see a lot of work to do. We still have to keep working from the grassroots. There’s a lot of states that will not . . . like the South, the whole South. They still haven’t dealt with the race issue, or much of anything else. They’re not ready to deal with [LGBT rights]. So we have a lot of struggles in the country. I think we still have a long way to go to reach our national agenda.

I see a lot of hope in the young activists that are coming along, but I think we older ones need to keep telling our stories, like I’m doing with you today, and then encouraging people to come together, be supportive, join together and figure out a way to make their voices heard, because I think that’s going to be not only as important, but possibly even more important in the years to come. With global politics being what it is, and the fact that we live in a global society now—we need to be way more proactive and not just reactive in the future. I’m interested to see how that will play out and what will happen.

And for my own lifetime, when I spoke to city council this last year about the marriage equality, I first told them about PFLAG and everything it stood for, and then I said, “I’m just going to speak to you from the heart as a mother. I’m going to be 70 my next birthday. My daughter’s going to be 50 on the 4th of July. . . . All parents want their kids to be healthy, happy, have a successful career, and marry the person of their choice.” I said, “[In the ‘80s, when my daughter came out,] she couldn’t have healthcare, because they didn’t have healthcare for lesbian women. And she could go to school, but if she came out she was going to be harassed there. She maybe couldn’t come out on her job, because that would lose her job. . . . And she couldn’t marry the person of her choice. So,” I said, “let’s pass this [resolution affirming support for marriage equality] now, before it’s too late, because I still want to go to her legal wedding.” [Laughs.] They really reacted when I spoke like that. It was a big reaction in their faces from up there. So I did get to see [marriage equality] happen in her home state.

I think the history of the future will be written by the people that get up and take action, and let their voices be heard. You have to be not afraid to take risks and to make mistakes. Because lots of mistakes happen along the way. There’s lots of setbacks. Determination is real important, because—in everything I’ve done—it’s always been determination that’s got me through. I think that’s going to play a big part too. That’s what I think.


Source: Interview with Laura S. Hodgman on 14 March 2013.