Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., has received constant emails from a reader who wants to know why Pitts, who isn't gay, frequently writes about the issue of gay rights. Pitts decided it was a question worth addressing. In this column, Pitts writes:
I just find myself intrigued by the idea that if you're not gay, you shouldn't care about gay rights.
The most concise answer I can give is cribbed from what a white kid said 40 or so years ago, as white college students were risking their lives to travel South and register black people to vote. Somebody asked why. He said he acted from an understanding that his freedom was bound up with the freedom of every other man.
... I know also that some folks are touchy about anything seeming to equate the black civil rights movement with the gay one. And no, gay people were not kidnapped from Gay Land and sold into slavery, nor lynched by the thousands.
On the other hand, they do know something about housing discrimination, they do know job discrimination, they do know murder for the sin of existence, they do know the denial of civil rights and they do know what it is like to be used as scapegoat and bogeyman by demagogues and political opportunists.
They know enough of what I know that I can't ignore it. .... It seems to me if I abhor intolerance, discrimination and hatred when they affect people who look like me, I must also abhor them when they affect people who do not.
... Among the things we seem to have lost in the years since that white kid made his stand is the ability, the imagination, the willingness to put ourselves into the skin of those who are not like us.