‘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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20 Comments

  1. How wonderful! Thanks for posting this Dorian.

    The ‘Grow up and start acting like Adults’ revolution may have just started in Austin, Texas.

    And you have every right to be proud of your city… It’s actions like this and acts of courage by these police officers, AND their Chief, that will help make all of us better people, and it will help put us on the path of doing what is right both for ourselves and for everybody else.

  2. What an awesome video! Thanks for sharing this Dorian. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I spent some time living in Austin back in the early seventies. At that time Austin was an incredible place to live, there was so much going on and so many good people. I know things change over the decades, but I’ll bet Austin has kept a lot of that same feeling. This video tends to confirm that bet.

  3. Steve and Zephyr, Thank You!

    Austin is a beautiful city. I call it a nice mixture of government folks, university students, hi-tech people and industry, “Texans,” Mexican/Latinos, music and some film industry, hills, lakes, greenery, vineyards and wineries, fabulous BBQ and Mexican restaurants, kind of a Democratic oasis in the middle of Republican state, a little Red and a little “weird.” The slogan is, “keep Austin weird.”

  4. Thanks Dorian….The video is excellent…real people….

    I wonder if the empty chair homeowner got a visit from the Secret Service?

  5. “I wonder if the empty chair homeowner got a visit from the Secret Service?”

    I don’t know,O.S., but Mr. Johnson certainly got a lot of attention from the local news media.

    Here is a kind of “humorous” (If one can find humor in such actions) report by Austin American-Statesman reporter Ken Herman: http://www.statesman.com/news/.....l-s/nSLX5/

  6. Thanks, Dorian! This is great and you should be very proud of Austin. I’ve heard great things about it over the years and this helps to confirm it.

  7. Austin is the hole in the Texas doughnut as is Chapel Hill in the North Carolina doughnut. Both are great cities.

  8. Neat, Dorian! I’ve heard about how different Austin is, from the sometimes cartoonish vision of Texas, on other websites. When Texas secedes, y’all will have to make sure there’s an open corridor so we can get to you (and you can get to us). :-)

    That’s a great film and a very needed effort to reach those kids. We can only hope it works and works well.

  9. Non-Acceptance?

    Last I checked, that is a free choice. To accept or not accept is a free choice. No one can change that.

    Nice cherry-picking, Nominal.

    You are one hundred percent correct. To accept or not to accept is a free choice. No one is contesting that.

    The purpose of the organizations mentioned is to help those young men and women (sometimes children) who feel non-accepted, who are bullied, who are harassed because of their sexuality and who may be thinking of committing suicide,and to let them 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.”

    Even you may have to admit that trying to help those youth “is a free choice,” too.

    Thanks for commenting

  10. Let me try one more time, Nominal:

    No one is even attempting to say that you or anyone else cannot be “non-accepting” of gays and lesbians or of any other minority or group of people.

    The objective of the organizations is not to challenge your or anyone else’s “non-acceptance” of gays and lesbians, or of any other minority or group of people, but rather 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.’”

    It is about trying to help those young people — could be one of yours or one of mine –who are not-accepted, not about the “non-accepters.”

  11. Thanks Dorian….your voice is clear ….

    The greatest distance one will ever transverse is the distance from a good heart to a clear voice….

  12. First, Dorian, thanks for sharing that awesome video. Very touching.

    No one is even attempting to say that you or anyone else cannot be “non-accepting” of gays and lesbians or of any other minority or group of people.

    I am. Or, rather, I will most definitely reserve the right to meet such non-acceptance with scorn, derision, and pointed criticism. I seriously don’t see how someone can look at that video, then criticise it for calling non-acceptance non-acceptance, and then use the old “not my problem” view that whatever those gay-lovers want to do is fine, but don’t you dare use my money to keep kids safe, at least not those “confused” ones. You know, like people with mental illness.

  13. I am. Or, rather, I will most definitely reserve the right to meet such non-acceptance with scorn, derision, and pointed criticism.

    Well said roro80.

    The good news is that even though some people still have a fear of, and hatred toward, gays they are no longer in the majority.

    More and more homophobes are putting their feelings back in the closet because of the blowback that’s starting to come from the straight community.

  14. Did I misinterpret your meaning?

  15. Roro says:

    “Did I misinterpret your meaning?”

    Hi Roro. Can’t figure out to whom this question was directed

  16. @ roro

    Ignore the question above. I know the answer

  17. Burning with curiousity over whether there was an answer to that…:)

  18. Roro:

    You’ll have to trust me on this one, this whole issue is now moot.

  19. Fair enough.

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