Who will you honor for their courageous love?
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. Sign-up for these emails here.
Dan Furmansky is Campaign Manager of the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign.
Last year, Standing on the Side of Love re-imagined Valentine’s Day as National Standing on the Side of Love Day — a holiday of love and acceptance for everyone. Together, we brought our campaign to life, and we found creative ways to stand on the side of love with those who are all too often marginalized as “the other” in society.
National Standing on the Side of Love Day is a chance to uplift others; strengthen and support local partnerships; and join together, in joy and in purpose, with those who support the universal values of love and acceptance for all people.
This coming Valentine’s Day 2011 — our 2nd Annual “National Standing on the Side of Love Day” – the Standing on the Side of Love campaign wants to take the opportunity to recognize the courageous love in our lives and in our communities.
As I sat down to write you this message, an email came through to me from my friend, Steve Melov, letting me know that his mother, Bernice, passed away at the age of 92. I cried upon hearing the news. Bernice was a very special woman, and I adored her. She was also the embodiment of courageous love.
Throughout her 70’s and 80’s, Bernice Melov witnessed, learned, taught and mentored as a national office volunteer for Parents, Friends & Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Later on, Bernice and Steve were super-volunteers at Equality Maryland, the state’s LGBT civil rights group. When I served as Executive Director of the organization, Bernice showed up in the office week after week to help with whatever was most needed.
Every year, Bernice would join us in Annapolis to testify before the Maryland legislature for marriage equality. A 90-year-old woman in a wheelchair is someone who automatically commands the ears of those around her, and Bernice more than deserved the deferential attention. She spoke with great conviction, wisdom, heart, and maternal love.
Bernice Melov was an ordinary person who used her extraordinary power to shine the light on injustice. Through her words and deeds, she reached beyond her immediate circle, and even beyond her own comfort zone, to create societal change. She exemplified the values of inclusion, diversity, community, and equality. This is the courageous love that we should seek to uplift this coming National Standing on the Side of Love Day.
All around us, there are Bernice Melovs who embody courageous love. They fight to bring their same-sex boyfriend or girlfriend to their prom. They risk deportation to come out as undocumented and push for the DREAM Act. They are administrators and teachers who advocate zero tolerance policies around bullying. And they are citizens who actively and passionately engage in poll watching to ensure minority voting rights.
Indeed, the list of unsung heroes who embody courageous love is long.
On Valentine’s Day 2011, Bernice Melov will be at the forefront of my mind, and I will find ways to honor her for her courageous love. This National Standing on the Side of Love Day, who do you want to honor for their courageous love?
Wishing you health, happiness, and bountiful love during this holiday season and New Year,
Standing on the Side of Love