Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 19, No. 21, Ed. 1 Friday, September 20, 2002 Page: 4 of 136
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Our responsibilities as Americans
By Eli Hernandez
It seems in today's society every cultural
group in America has their day in the sun. It's
usually a day set aside to celebrate one's
uniqueness and pride of being different. I'll try
to be very PC here. Puerto Ricans, for example,
have their National Puerto Rican Day — oddly
enough it's only celebrated in New York City,
go figure. African-Americans have Kwanzaa
in December. Hispanics/Latinos have
Hispanic Heritage Month coming up — like I
have to be reminded that I'm Hispanic for a
whole month. And the Chinese have their own
New Year for God's sakes — no wonder China
is still trying to catch up with the rest of the
world. Now in Dallas, it's the gay communi-
ty's turn to recognize itself and celebrate yet
another cultural separateness.
There is nothing wrong with saying, "Hey
I'm different and I'm proud of who I am." But
if anything 9/11 has taught us Americans is
that we are more alike than anyone would like
to admit. I should know. On September 11,
2001, I was living and working in the New
York City area. I lived that nightmare, but I,
like many others, now realize that it is time to
move on and live life. So now I'm living and
working in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area. How
ironic that my life's journey has brought me
back to where it ail began here in the Great
State of Texas.
Even in this Dallas gay community there
are many factors that make us different and
separate us by belief and lifestyle. Whether its
color, creed, language, culture, religion, poli-
tics or activism, these variables, and many oth-
ers, define us and categorize us in this sub-cul-
ture as the mainstream tends to refer to it.
That's an interesting notion because I for one
never considered myself to be sub-anything.
Considering the events of the past year and
the pending new ones up ahead — possible
escalation of war in the Middle East — I
believe we should consider this Pride Week
our responsibilities and freedoms as
Americans now more than ever. We have
many rights and privileges in America, but
when was the last time we took time out to
show our pride in our country, in our unity as
a community with our countrymen and
women. When was the last time we waved the
Red, White and Blue with pride and not
wrapped it around our naked loins — I think
that should be made against the law personal-
I think it's time to take stock as Americans
of any orientation and make others account-
able as well. If you are going to live in America
you should speak English. The next time you
go to France speak English only and see how
far that gets you. If you are going to live in
America you should know and adapt our
American culture and way of life. This great
country is not an extension of any other sover-
eign state — whether it's to the north or south.
If we are going to be Americans let us stand
together and be Americans no matter what
sub-cultural group we may be identified with
and we should express our pride in being
Americans. We should vote responsibly, we
should honor those that have died for our free-
doms and we should obey the JUST laws that
bring order to our society.
This Pride Week everyone can celebrate
their sexual orientation and their awareness of
being different. But why don't we take a
moment and celebrate the fact that no matter
what our differences, no matter what battles
we have fought and won or lost, no matter
how we have hurt each other in the past, we
remain proud Americans. ▼
Eli Hernandez is a public relations consultant
who comments on social, political and contempo-
rary issues. He may be reached via e-mail at
Looking back from mid-life
Memory to relive adolescent exuberance, but the experience to avoid it
By Brian Burton
Middle age is here and I'm adjusting. The
body is holding but my outlook announces
Technology is a good example.
Friends ask if I have the latest gadget. I
"How's your cell phone service?" Well,
gee, I just use the nearest pay phone.
"How much meg and ram do you have?"
Don't know, but it sounds a tad personal.
Life was so simple before technology.
Indeed life was simpler growing up in
Little Rock in the 1960s. We thought 'bilingual'
meant the ability to communicate with
'Stock' was cattle and 'market' was a gro-
cery. Vegetarians lived in Berkeley.
Online was for laundry and phones were
answered by real people or not at all.
Red, orange and purple were strands of
rainbows, not air pollution levels. And rain-
bows weren't gay, yet.
Our choices were simpler too. One phone
company met all of our needs.
At the office 1 listen for the latest jargon and
try to dress stylishly, but the new intern is
unfazed. He's 21 and notes in our introduction
that his father is my age. Ouch.
1 watch the evening news. I watch Dan's
hair turn and shorten. Am I ready for an up
and coming anchor named Jeremy or Jessica
explaining world events to me? I miss Walter.
It's the exercise channel and I have to con-
sult my dictionary. Didn't 'crunches' used to
be a sound and 'carbs' used to date dinosaur
Back to technology — I miss my 286 com-
puter. Like an old friend, that amber display
watched me blossom through my 20's and
ripen into middle age. I was cyber-celibate for
years. In my youth 'Web' was a spider's orb
and 'Yahoo' were hillbillies northwest of town.
Mrs. Green, my corpulent first-grade
teacher, insisted that in the year 2000 we'd all
live in glass houses and own telephones with
TV screens. I grimaced, envisioning an older
and larger Mrs. Green bumping into glass.
I watched lots of TV as a child. Three chan-
nels brought me the characters 1 loved. My
Sunday School teacher was concerned that I
seemed to be equally fascinated with Cher, Big
Bird, and Jesus. Didn't that clue someone
Speaking of Cher, I attended her recent
farewell concert. I stood in awe as she
descended from the ceiling like a human can-
"If I Could Turn Back Time" played on like
my life's anthem. Then I realized I was the
only person standing in my section. I turned
and looked behind me. People smiled back.
Despite all of my wistful reminiscing, I sus-
pect that the middle years are the best. There's
enough memory to relive adolescent exuber-
ance and enough experience to keep me from
actually doing it. And for those willing to
behold, mid-life bestows a precious gift of per-
spective and anticipation.
For now, I'll continue creeping happily in
that "slower traffic" lane of the information
superhighway. If anyone sees me stranded,
just remember, I'll need to borrow your cell
Brian Burton is 42 years old and serves as exec-
utive director of the Wilkinson Center, a nonprofit
ministry serving 16,000 people in poverty in
Dallas. Brian is getting used to e-mail and may be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEPTEMBER 20, 2002 DALLAS VOICE
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Vercher, Dennis. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 19, No. 21, Ed. 1 Friday, September 20, 2002, newspaper, September 20, 2002; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth616161/m1/4/: accessed April 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.