Originally printed in the Midwest Ursine in September, 2001 - Reposted on September 9, 2005
September 11, 2001. For an entire generation, this date shook an entire nation out of complacency and into a state of alert. As we slowly recover as a nation, the looming threat of Anthrax scares and other possible threats of terrorism still challenge our nation’s strong foundation. Through these times, we heed the call to be a nation united. After all, we are all Americans.
As bears, leatherfolk, chubs and chasers, and other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, we are called upon to join our fellow Americans in this healing process.
Although we are called to help, we are unable to serve in our Armed Forces openly and freely. We are also unable to give blood to the Red Cross. Yet, we gave to the United Way’s “September 11th Fund.” We also gave to other related charities with our time and our money.
We honor our heroes, especially those brave gay men on the United flight from Newark that crashed into Southwestern Pennsylvania. Most of all, we grieve for those who were lost in the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York and at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
In this process, I often wondered what message I would transmit if I waved the American flag wherever I go. I also pondered the message I would make by participating in any patriotic morale-boosting event at work. Would I do these acts to support the current military action undertaken by our armed forces in Afghanistan? Or, would I be simply showing my pride in my country, heeding President Bush’s call for calm and unity?
Let me ask this: if we’re so high on displaying the flag wherever we are, then where were those flags before September 11th? Is this simply a bandwagon that Americans love to jump on occasionally?
Furthermore, the last several weeks showed another reaction by our fellow Midwesterners. As much as we grieve and rally, there’s still an undercurrent of the “NIMBY” (Not In My Back Yard) attitude throughout the region. Except in Chicago, Midwesterners didn’t feel a deep loss of security that was associated with these attacks. However, there were a couple of Anthrax scares in Madison early in October similar to the incidents that occurred in Florida, New York and DC. Luckily, these scares were proven negative, but it does show how fragile we can be once terrorism hits in our own back yard.
With that in mind, we, as Midwesterners, need to release our ideals and be diligent and cautious about our lives. To do this, we must reiterate our pride in our country by living our lives as normally as possible. We must reinvigorate our economy, revitalize our tourist industry, reach out to other people and communities, and set aside any negativity within our own subcultures.
If we do all of this, we are going to make it through this storm. No matter how you identify yourself in the context of your sexual orientation, be a part of a nation and a community united! By doing this, we will have justice.
(c) 2001 Tillery Publications