‘It Gets Better’ in Austin, Texas

As most readers know by now, I live in Texas.

As in any state of the Union, good and bad things happen in Texas.

As in any city or town in our country, things happen in Austin that can make one feel ashamed and that can make one feel proud.

Within the span of five days, I experienced both emotions — shame and pride — and I hope that most Texans shared them with me.

Late last week, a homeowner in our beautiful city hung an empty folding chair from a tree branch in front of his house. The owner later attached an American flag to the chair. Many took this and another similar incident as “racially offensive displays meant to symbolize the ‘lynching’ of President Barack Obama.”

According to NBC News, the homeowner “reportedly told a Democratic political blogger who said she had concerns, ‘You can take it and go straight to hell and take Obama with you.’”

I understand that the chair has now come down.

Today, I received an e-mail from a friend urging me to view a video — a video, she said, that would make me feel proud.

And indeed it did.

The video (above) is produced by the Lesbian & Gay Peace Officers Association (LGPOA) of Austin and features gay and lesbian officers and civilian members of the Austin Police Department.

It is part of the “It Gets Better Project” and “The Trevor Project” to reach out to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth who may be struggling due to bullying, harassment, and non-acceptance, and who may be thinking of committing suicide, with the intention of letting those youth know that even though it is difficult today, tomorrow will bring hope, love, and life and that the organizations are there to help them “make it there.”

The video is very touching. What made me feel especially proud is that the City of Austin Chief of Police, Art Acevedo, appears in the video, endorses the video, shows empathy for all minorities and, most important — as an immigrant himself — voices his full support for diversity and tolerance within his department and everywhere.

I urge you to watch this video.

I cannot find better words to express my pride that this could be happening in Austin, in Texas, than the words of one of the many people who have already commented on this video:

Thank you Austin Police Department & LGPOA-Austin for your courage in facing adversity with your shiniest shoe forward with a bright loving smile upon your faces to welcome and protect us ALL. You shine a light in the darkness, you lead by example, and you inspire hope to spread like wildfire through us all. :) Thank you sincerely, Namaste.

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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