I believe we do need heroes.
First, there are the heroes we see on television, the stage, and on movies. The men and women who choose to create works of art that speak to the LGBT experience. Larry Kramer, Nathan Lane, Dustin Lance Black, Laverne Cox, Tony Kushner, Stephen Sondheim, RuPaul, Craig Lucas, Bill Condon, Pedro Almodovar, Rachel Maddow, Ellen Degeneres, Harvey Milk, Barney Frank, Billie Jean King - the list goes could go on for miles. They are people we look up to. They are people who speak when we can't. The ones brave enough to tell our stories.
But there are other heroes out there, and they deserve to be honored just as much, if not more. For their lives are not big ones, not sexy ones, not covered in the limelight, not profiled in a Barbara Walters special. Their lives instead are lives of quiet strength and unrelenting passion. The two moms who both work long jobs, yet still manage to get their kids up in the morning and out to school. The single dad with the adopted son, just trying to figure out how to take each day. The young kid in high school, stuck in a small town, who just wants to get out and be some place where he'll be loved for who he is. The trans person who decides to live life on their terms, even in a world when simply going to the bathroom is an act that's been outlawed in some states. The elderly couple who've been together for decades and seen the world change beyond their wildest dreams. These are the heroes that matter most in the world. Their stories are the hidden ones. The daily lives they lead - full of groceries, crappy bosses, nights out, moments on the couch, walking the dog - those are not ones often celebrated on celluloid. Their stories are not often told, whether on the screen, the page, or even in the news, but they are the lives that mean the most.
Our heroes are those who came before. Our heroes are the ones who bled for us, fought for us, and screamed for us. They are the ones who got us here. Our heroes are the ones who are out and proud in every stage of their life, whether they're waving the flag or not. The bus drivers, the long-shot politicians, the cooks, the waiters, the farmers, the janitors, the counselors, the teachers, the scientists. The men and women who go about their lives everyday, proud of who they are and proud of the lives they have made for themselves. It's not always about being in front of the camera, or making a speech at the Oscars. Sometimes, it's just waking up each day, sending the kids to school, feeding the dog, being out at work, and going back home, proud of the day you accomplished. They call it a simple life, but there is nothing simple about being who you are in a world that keeps telling you to be someone else. There is nothing simple about living and loving when everyone would rather do the opposite. Nothing is simple about loving someone else, choosing to marry someone else, choosing to be yourself, choosing to be a parent.
Some of these heroes had to leave home and start over. Some had to find a tribe far removed from the one they were born into. While others stuck around, moved to the suburbs, or found a home where home always had been. They didn't have to look too far outside their window. But really, though, it doesn't matter how they got to where they are, what matters is that they made it. Through fear and darkness, through worry and regret, through change and upheaval, through anguish and laughter and joy. They made it here.
They are our true heroes. Because they found a way to live the lives they wanted. The lives they chose.
So, as I continue to think about heroes, I think about this. These are the heroes that I want to celebrate. These are the heroes that I keep with me when I begin a story. These are the kind of lives that really mean something. Because when you have heroes, when you know there are people out there just like you, living life just like you, then you're never alone.