Listen, Gang, I get it.
The nation has been through a trauma. Many of us have had to spend months alone under lockdown. Our friends and family are supposed to stay six feet away from us with no hugs allowed. Even to protest horrendous behavior by our police we must put our health in danger. What kind of world is that?
Then finally the door opens a little bit, even though we are still deeply entrenched in the first wave, and the damn authorities want us to wear a mask. I have heard the endless excuses of how it blocks your beautiful face, ruins a perfect photograph, diminishes a private moment, you are not at high risk and you are hanging with folks who don’t have it.
Besides, it is really annoying, and I heard masks aren’t even effective.
Really gang, really?
When I was growing up, my uncles would share tales with me of being sent to fight deadly and horrific battles in World War II. No one complained that it was inconvenient or annoying. They did it because they loved their country and it needed them.
When I graduated from high school, family members and classmates were immediately drafted, some as young as 18, to fight and die in the jungles of Vietnam. Over 5,000 died in one month in May 1968. They went to fight because they loved their country and it needed them.
In Mississippi in the summer of 1964, thousands of students risked their lives to fight for the civil rights of African Americans. Three were brutally killed and buried in a dam in Philadelphia, Mississippi. No one complained that it was inconvenient or annoying. They did it because they loved their country and it needed them.
At many moments in history when great sacrifice was required by our country, whether it was fighting in wars or at home for civil rights, justice, and peace, young Americans have responded with an energy and dignity that gained them a place in history.
Now, your country, family and friends need you again.
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more people in three months than all of World War I. It is projected to at least kill 200,000 Americans by October 1st. That is one third of the number of souls lost in our Civil War. The toll could be much higher by the end of the year.
Ironically, in one of the greatest crises in this nation’s history, your country is asking you to do just two things. No one must go to battle. No one must die in dangerous places for freedom.
Nope, all they are asking is that you wear a fucking mask and socially distance yourselves.
That is literally the ONLY sacrifice they are asking you to make to serve your country. Thousands of healthcare workers have died already to protect us. They are simply asking us to wear a fucking mask. The senior citizens who helped build this country are begging you to wear a fucking mask. Those with preexisting conditions who struggle daily with other health issues are begging you to wear a fucking mask. Scientists say that these folks, your family, friends and neighbors, are 12 times more likely to get COVID-19 than others.
Many folks who know of my work often say kind things to me or thank me for my journey of the last 60 years. For the last ten of those years I have had 11 surgeries and eight stays in critical care. I have recently been diagnosed with COPD. For the COVID-19 virus, it is like I have a big target on my back. I have done my part by washing hands until they are raw, wearing my mask and for 115 days I have been in lockdown alone in a small apartment because my country needs me to not get sick and become an additional burden on the healthcare system. Oh yeah, I also want to live, and have more things I want to achieve in my life.
I am begging you to serve your country, love your family, respect your neighbors, cherish your seniors, and honor your friends by just doing one thing. Wear a fucking mask. Is it too much to ask of you? You can go outside again, you can go to parks, pick flowers, visit with folks. Just remember there are 120,000 of our citizens who are no longer with us because of COVID-19 and they can’t do any of those things.
I know you know better. Stop making exceptions for yourself and excuses because it is annoying. Be a role model like younger Americans have been in the past. We are a people who love our country, cherish our families, and value our friends. Americans have and will do anything to keep them safe.
Please, wear the fucking mask.
All opinions expressed are those of the author.
David Mixner, whom Newsweek once named the most powerful gay man in America, has been a highly regarded leader in American politics and international human rights for over 40 years and is a best-selling author of Stranger Among Friends, At Home with Myself, and Brave Journeys (co-written with Dennis Bailey). A sought after keynote speaker around the globe, Mixner has lectured at Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, and the London School of Economics.
Mixner has raised over $30 million for candidates and charity organizations, including well over $1 million for openly gay and lesbian candidates across the country, and has participated in over 75 election campaigns, serving as campaign manager, fundraiser, or strategist. Campaigns include Gephardt for President, Clinton for President, Hart for President, McGovern for President, Bradley for Mayor, and Brown for Governor and Senate. Additionally, Mixner is a past member of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Party National Commission on Delegate Selection and Party Reform, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund (former National Co-Chair).