Knowledge is power

Out In Jersey editor Sam Martino
Out In Jersey editor Sam Martino

Editor’s Letter

Since November 9th, I have been questioning everything … Everything. Many have said they feel defeated and are giving up. When did we ever give up? If you are of a certain age, then you remember what it was like to be without rights. You also remember when windows at the gay bars were blacked out. Now is definitely not the time to give up. We just aren’t the quitting kind.

We also know what it’s like to live with a President who at the beginning of the AIDS crisis in 1981 remained silent until 1987 near the end of his second term. By that time, AIDS had been diagnosed in approximately 36,000 people, and 20,000 had died. The disease had spread to 113 countries. We knew that “Silence Equals Death” and we fought hard to have our voices heard.

In this issue, Alison Bechdel talks about how she felt after the election: “I’m just so distraught over the election that the only way I could see out of it, the only way I could help myself figure it out, was to start writing a Dykes to Watch Out For strip. I haven’t thought about these characters in eight years, but I’m right in the middle of writing an episode and kind of dragging them all out of storage.” Alison Bechdel knows that art heals, and so does Meryl Streep, who after the election was as broken as many of us were, and reminded us at the Golden Globes: “As my friend the dear, departed Princess Leia said to me once, ‘take your broken heart and make it into art.’”

But art is not the only way through a difficult time. Being legally prepared for what might come is equally, if not more, important. Attorney Kathy Hogan offers sound legal advice that we should all take into consideration.

“The most important way to protect LGBTQ rights is to have the basic legal documents done, namely, a Will, a Living Will (for health), and a Power of Attorney (for finances). No changes in the law can affect the validity of these documents.”

Transgender friends and allies take note, “Rights for transgender people are more susceptible to state laws that could limit rights. Currently, transgender people have been afforded some protections at the federal level, but because those rights are not codified by federal law or by rulings from the Supreme Court, they are more vulnerable to roll backs.”

Knowing your rights, being proactive, and taking the steps that Kathy has suggested empowers us to take control of our personal welfare. Remember, knowledge is power, and that’s something no one can take away from you.

Sam Martino
Maria Sammartino (aka Sam Martino), is a writer and artist for over 15 years. Maria started at Out In Jersey as the news editor in 2009, and shortly thereafter became the Editor-In-Chief. She has been published in the Philadelphia Gay News, The International Journal of MS Care, and others. Maria goes by Sam Martino because she believes that women are never given a fair shot - and doesn’t want her art or her writing to be judged based on her sex, but on the merit of the work.