OP-ED: LGBTQ life in San Mateo County
Excerpt from Daily Journal
May 10, 2017, 05:00 AM By Craig Wiesner
In 1979, I swore an oath to protect and defend our Constitution, against all enemies, foreign and domestic, as a recruit in the U.S. Air Force. Eight years later, I had to leave a career I loved because it seemed like that Constitution didn’t protect me as a gay man. Still in the closet, I started civilian life in the midst of the AIDS crisis. I’d left one life behind only to be terrified that there was no place for me in this new life either.
Then one day I spotted a headline in the San Jose Mercury News: “Gay Life in the Slow Lane.” It was a story about the Billy DeFrank Center in San Jose. I showed up for a support group meeting the following Thursday and discovered an entire world full of beautiful people, which eventually led me to the man I married 27 years ago.
A lot has changed in these three decades, in large part because of Harvey Milk’s prophetic call for LGBTQ people to “come out come out wherever you are.” The longer we stayed in the closet, in the shadows, the longer stereotypes and myths would define us, rather than us defining ourselves. Harvey Milk was right. The more people came out, the greater the level of acceptance there was. Today things are quite different than they were in 1987, including the Supreme Court’s landmark decision affirming LGBTQ people’s right to marry.