Watch: Lone Memphis Gay Man Speaks Out for LGBT Anti-Discrimination Ordinance That Was Rejected


Earlier this week I posted that an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance in Memphis was withdrawn because of lack of support from the council and the mayor.

At least one gay man came to speak to the council in support of it.

"The reason you don't have gay men and women here speaking to you — is cause they're terrified. Because of threats on their lives. On their jobs. You would not dare say, 'You know, hey, I'm gay'. It's not even about that. It's about putting the picture of the person I'm in love with, that I'd like to marry one day if people wake up, on my desk."

Watch his speech, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Well, I think that was very brave and very cool of him. It was probably more powerful a speech for it being just him.

    Posted by: Rin | Aug 27, 2010 2:36:41 PM

  2. This is the courage that Ken Mehlman did not and still does not have.

    If he wants to 'make amends' he could start by going to Memphis and standing with this man.

    Posted by: Ross | Aug 27, 2010 2:37:33 PM

  3. Congratulation Memphis Man, this is how heroes are born. Must be tough to be the only gay in the village. Wish others would / could stand up with you.

    Posted by: randalf | Aug 27, 2010 2:52:02 PM

  4. Hero!

    I used to live in the neighborhood in Mid-town Memphis where he lives.

    Though Mid-town is, for the most part, gay friendly, this man has some SERIOUS cojones to stand up and speak out the way he did.

    We need more Memphis-mans and fewer Melmans in the world.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Aug 27, 2010 3:02:46 PM

  5. He made me cry.

    And I agree with Ross.

    Posted by: screwmycoke | Aug 27, 2010 3:02:50 PM

  6. That is so much harder to do than having hundreds of people behind you... well done!

    Posted by: pharmerandy | Aug 27, 2010 3:03:12 PM

  7. Thank you VERY much for your kind words. I had just reached a fevered pitch with frustration for this city. Every bit of support is greatly admired and appreciated. I've had such great feedback from that video... I didn't even know that vid would be archived. I figured the only people to hear and see me would be the council and their assistants.

    Folks keep asking me "what do we do from here?"... All I can say is everyone needs to call their representative council member and the mayors office and say who you are, what you do for a living, and a short description of how the anti-gay attitude in the city is affecting their live as well as the overall progressive movement in this city.

    We are all so different in the gay community. It's certainly hard as hell to round us all up under one idea or voice. Even though all our voices are different this is the time to speak. Speak loud and proud of your love and your life. We cannot wait anymore for politics to catch up to the way we are already living our lives. It is time to act. Please catch my fever and pass YOUR story on to other friends and family members.

    I can only speak for myself, but I will no longer fight quietly, waiting longer and longer for tolerance to arrive in my city. A fly or an itch is tolerated only as long as it is around. I demand acceptance from the government. I demand my rights as a hard working, tax paying citizen of Memphis. I am Memphis. WE are Memphis.

    Use this facebook to pass positive ideas back and forth and lets do something and change this city. Let's get the rights that are our rights as human beings. Thank you for your time, take care and have a fantastic weekend.

    Posted by: Michael Hildebrand | Aug 27, 2010 3:04:50 PM

  8. oops... I meant to not say 'facebook'... too much coffee this morning. Use whatever you can to get the ideas boiling. This fabulous blog is certainly the place for that to happen.

    Posted by: Michael Hildebrand | Aug 27, 2010 3:11:53 PM

  9. Michael you are a hero. Thank you for your courage and power of example. We need more men like you in the world.

    Posted by: tooboot | Aug 27, 2010 3:13:55 PM

  10. I laud you, Michael, for sticking it out and trying to make a difference. Your one voice is a thousand times more powerful than 100 voices combined.

    Posted by: Rad | Aug 27, 2010 3:16:33 PM

  11. Thanks Michael.. for your guts,your strength, and your willingness to put yourself on the line for the cause and stand up and fight!

    Posted by: HawaiiBill | Aug 27, 2010 3:26:35 PM

  12. you are an exemplar of courage, my friend, even if now you appear to be a lone voice in the wilderness.

    'If a man makes himself a worm, he must not complain when he is trodden on.' -Immanuel Kant

    you are no worm, michael. best of luck to you and your future husband.

    Posted by: nic | Aug 27, 2010 4:03:50 PM

  13. He's amazing. I can't believe we still need to justify our existence to backward heteroshits.

    Posted by: nikko | Aug 27, 2010 4:09:55 PM

  14. WOW Michael,
    to speak out like that in Memphis, into the face of the holy rollers and hypocrites! I know you could have said more, but you probably had the council members squirming in their seats, wanting you to STOP and end THEIR SUFFERING! The audicity! The chutzpah of 21st century!
    So those believing in talking snakes and stoning people who work on Sundays got their way once again. Let the bible-thumpers hide behind Leviticus while the real life exodus of fed-up talent from the city continues...

    Posted by: Bernhard Meck | Aug 27, 2010 4:38:12 PM

  15. Its hard for me, as a UK citizen, to understand what is must be like for some people in america. Its very odd to watch this; the US seems so primitive on this issue, at the political level at least. Not saying its perfect over here but there is no way an employer could get away with (or even consider) sacking someone for being gay or that open hostility and outright homophobia would be tolerated in the workplace or other social situations.. I hope someone listens to Michael - he is right; he is strong and one day he will be vindicated. Karma always comes.

    Posted by: Atheist | Aug 27, 2010 4:44:01 PM

  16. Let us hope that Michael's words are but the drop in a still pond, and those words continue to spread in every direction and create ripples of discussion throughout the Memphis community. That is how change occurs, even though that positive change will seem to be slow. . .but it will be change nonetheless. Keep up the good fight, Michael. . .your passion, conviction, courage and intelligence are admirable qualities and they serve you well.

    Posted by: Keith | Aug 27, 2010 4:48:53 PM

  17. I applaud Michael. I have a couple of acquaintances who live in Memphis who are (supposedly) politically active. Shame on them for not being there.

    What WE can do is to contact the following: and

    The first to castigate the myopic politicians, the second to withhold travel dollars. I ask, why isn't there movement toward an organized boycott?

    Posted by: Perry | Aug 27, 2010 5:24:28 PM

  18. Bravo Michael. Hopefully a trickle will turn into a flood that the Bible Bashes can't withstand

    Posted by: Stephen | Aug 27, 2010 5:34:55 PM

  19. UPDATE: Oct 11th, 2010 (Monday) Gay Rights March for Equality

    3:30pm - meet at or around the Civil Rights Museum Downtown
    4:30pm - march to the city council building to demand equal representation from the city government. Not just for City workers but for all gay men and women.

    I need all the help planning that I can muster. Please call me with any assistance you can give in planning and organizing this march. 773 841-6773 |

    or contact my sister at


    Posted by: Michael Hildebrand | Aug 27, 2010 6:13:22 PM

  20. Well Done Sir!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Aug 27, 2010 6:23:53 PM

  21. Brian McNaught talked about "Proud Growls" and "Courageous Roars" in the fight for gay rights. That is the very definition of a roar and I am posting this on my Facebook immediately. Hopefully, others will join you. Bravo to you Michael!

    Posted by: AJ | Aug 27, 2010 7:03:21 PM

  22. I hate that his address is at the beginning of this clip. Someone should take that off - because if Fullilove was getting threats for being a supporter I fear for him a bit.

    I thought this was really brave, and an incredibly moving speech that had to change the views of at least some diehards in that crowd. Hopefully with others like him coming out and supporters like Fullilove (whose name I LOVE) Memphis and other anti-gay places will start to change. I think the bible belt will be the last place in this country to really change, but I hope that still isn't too far off.

    Posted by: Joe | Aug 27, 2010 7:19:13 PM

  23. Hero.

    Posted by: Woofy | Aug 27, 2010 7:24:03 PM

  24. What happened in Memphis when the city council withdrew the LGBT Anti-Discrimination Ordinance was so disheartening to me. I consider Memphis to be my 'hometown' still--it's where I grew up & spent the first years of adulthood. It is quite frustrating that the city is progressing, but progressing so much more slowly than other its of its size. Not just in LGBT issues, but in all areas of becoming an true urban place.

    I am so proud of Michael that he stood up & was the lone voice in speaking out. It's hard when no one will listen. Michael's passion make people listen. Hopefully people watching this video will inspire other people to speak up for injustices they see that may be happening in their community.

    Posted by: Ross Guthrie | Aug 27, 2010 7:44:41 PM

  25. Knowing there are people like Michael in Memphis, makes it sound like a cool city to me. Knowing that they didn't pass the legislation makes it sound like a dull city to me. The absence of gay people in the chambers is glaring and obvious. Why can't people just frigging do what is right? The inhumanity of it all. The council members are also probably afraid of being seen as pro-gay. Homophobia is
    rampant. Leading by fear.

    Posted by: kodiak | Aug 27, 2010 9:40:02 PM

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