Being on the side of justice and “what’s right” isn’t always easy. Just ask anyone who has had to fight for equality under the law. Many will tell you stories about hate mail, the toll activism takes on their relationships, the shouting matches and derogatory comments made to and about them. However, when you are a member of a “suspect class” finding and using your voice is a bit easier; after all, you’re fighting for yourself – your own family. Who wouldn’t fight hand and fist to defend their own family?
But there is a rare breed of activist that I’ve often heralded as our great defenders – the straight allies. They come out for equality as they recognize that the pursuit of happiness involves not only “the American Dream,” but the most pure of emotions… love.
Will Phillips is one of our great defenders, a 10 year old boy from Arkansas whose refusal to pledge allegiance until all Americans, even the LGBT ones, receive liberty… and justice. On his own accord, Will recognized the extreme discrimination suffered by LGBT people in the “land of the free” and used what voice he had to make a statement; thus, he was rocketed to Internet stardom, humbling even the most hardened of activists.
During his acceptance speech for a GLAAD Media Award, Will Phillips stated:
I believe activism is important. Activism is CHANGE! It is the fuel, lubricant, & engine that drives the slowly moving turtle-mobile that is progress.
I accept this award on behalf of those who have been struck down, beaten up, & instead of attention & praise have gotten intolerance, violence, or even worse… indifference.
Will’s strength, courage and compassion toward the equality movement didn’t come without a cost. In the initial days after his refusal to say the Pledge, his mother, Laura Phillips, wrote to me regarding the negative impact on Will:
My concerns to the principal of the school is that if this is what a straight ally is going through, what must it be like for the GLBT students there?
Now with this award and his video on getequal.org, Will is gaining more attention. May we remember to show him that for all the “negative” there are positives and that an entire community stands with him.
Please consider contributing to Will’s college fund. To do so, you may mail a check or money order to:
“Franklin Templeton 529 College Savings Plan”
P.O. Box 33090
St. Petersburg, FL 33733-8090
In the memo section you must write:
“Will Phillips Acct# 472-321-7514”
If you cannot contribute monetarily, please consider sending Will a note of thanks:
c/o NWA Center for Equality
PO Box 9014
Fayetteville, AR 72703