www.ambiente.us SEPTEMBER | SEPTIEMBRE 2009
Community Activism | Why do we do it?
by Herb Sosa
Every generation, political and social movement has its leaders. Some are more vocal,
some are more charismatic, and some are just controversial. What they all for the
most part share is the ability to motivate, inspire and lead a movement. But what
happens when Cause Fatigue sets in?
As Americans, we love our causes, and we love to feel we are making a difference, but
out attention span is very limited. Remember Live AID, Feed the World, We are the
World, ONE, Live Strong, Farm AID, …AIDS? We all mean well. We've all worn the
ribbon or bracelets. Many of us have even marched, raised money & awareness for
our cause of choice, and that is a wonderful thing. The problem comes in when years
and years go by, a new generation comes in, and the issues are still not resolved – not
Working as an activist for much of my adult life, I have saved buildings from demolition,
trees from being cut down, and fought for LGBT & immigrant equality from every angle.
I have certainly seen many victories in the process, but as a whole, it is tough to stay
motivated when just as you win one, three more issues come up.
My son, who for many years also
was active in Just Say No, teen
suicide prevention, LGBT youth
leadership and many other worthy
causes, had to step back a few
years ago. It was too much.
It took too much out of him and
everyone around him. The
problems just seemed to keep
growing, especially in the LGBT
community he was trying to do
something positive in.
A recent study done by the
National Gay and Lesbian Task
Force shows that 20 to 40 percent
of homeless youth in the United States identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. The same
study also found that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 homeless youth in New York
City, of which 3,000 to 8,000 are LGBT. Numbers are similar for most other U.S. cities.
So why should we keep working for political & social issues?
Why should we keep up the activism? My life is just fine with the
rights I currently have. I’m burnt out! Let someone else help out for
a while, right? … -WRONG.
Every one of us needs to be vigilant in whatever way we can, no matter how
large or small our efforts. – Telling someone at the office that their joke is just wrong
and hurtful…Calling a TV or Radio station when someone says something offensive to
you or others. Not ignoring the old guy at the bar, making fun of someone accent or
being a snob when someone ill or not a pretty as you is at the beach next to you. I
believe that much of what we as LGBT’s need to do has to start and change from within
our own community. We need to recognize our own discrimination and self-destruction
in order to be respected, earn our rights and lead.
Everyone get tired of trying. Everyone gets tired of making the calls, marching, raising
money, reaching out, giving what you don’t have and not always getting a much as a
smile back. It’s OK to feel frustrated at times, and even to take a step back to “recharge
your batteries”. It’s OK, as long as you don’t give up and keep giving in whatever way
You see, Community Activism is not about personal praise, reward, accolades or ones
self. It is about educating, leading, opening minds and ideas. It is about helping those
that can help themselves. It is about giving.
Just this week, my son told me that he now really gets why I do what I do for our
community. Now that he sees thru his own eyes, a new generation with the same
issues that he had - The same questions, insecurities & obstacles. The same
challenges, the same discrimination and hate that he experienced. The same needs.
Maybe this will re-energize him to do more. I know his words have certainly re-
energized me to go on.
Herb Sosa is the Publisher|Editor of Ambiente Magazine, President & co-founder of
Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida the leading Latino|Hispanic gay civil-rights nonprofit
initiative, offering leadership on issues that concern Latino|Hispanic LGBT(lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender) and other minority groups across the
U.S., and has worked extensively in Historic Preservation...and just trying to do good for
others and keep his head above water!
Copyright 2009| HerbSosa & Ambiente. Do not reproduce without prior authorization.
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