It might sound surprising but I’m actually looking forward to 2017.
This past year was one of the busiest of my life. With the publication of my memoir late last year, the last 12 months have also been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined and gave me an opportunity to look back at my life. Not only did I do a lot of reflection as I was writing my own history, but as I was out on the road promoting the book, I met people who said my life and actions had touched them in ways I never expected.
There was the radio interviewer who, after an almost hour-long interview, told me live on air that she witnessed my disruption of Walter Cronkite in 1973 and that evening told her mother she was a lesbian. There was the man sitting in the back row at the Harvard Coop who came up and asked me to sign his book and explained that he was studying civil-rights law at Harvard in order to go back to his country to fight homophobia. The country was Uganda.
I’m writing this column before Thanksgiving — since we go to press ahead of time — and that holiday is on my mind. Of course, the question is often asked, “What do you give thanks for in the last year?” My answer is the people I met on that book tour throughout the country. While they may have felt that I gave them something, they gave me a gift as well. In many areas I visited, there were major issues of oppression or discrimination. The people I spoke with explained how they were dealing with that struggle, and I heard new ideas and saw these individuals’ willingness to be involved and never be invisible again.
Seeing people overcome the obstacles put in their way with a brave and determined outlook is something to behold. To all of them, I am personally thankful. They inspire me.
Writing this makes me realize how important words are and how this newspaper and its staff have contributed to that battle for visibility and equality for 40 years now. Our staff, like the people I met, contribute to creating and building a strong community, and that has never been more important than now.