Martina's speech at the "Millenium March on
Washington" on April 30, 2000
Hello everybody! Well, it's a long and hot afternoon, isn't it? It is truly an honor to speak in front of you, here, during the family portion of today's program. Most of you know me as a tennis player, some of you know me as an activist, some of you now apparently know me, "Oh, there's that Subaru woman."
But relatively few know me as a family person. I'm a daughter, a sister, a proud aunt. And I share my life with a close-knit group of chosen family. The youngest member of my family, who is here today, is two years old and she has two moms. As evident in the recent Vermont House vote, she, as well as children like her, symbolize the need for basic legal rights for everybody, equal protection for all families. [Applause]
When I look back on my childhood, I left what was then Czechoslovakia so that I could play tennis the way I wanted to. But now, looking back, I realize I left also so that I could live free as a gay woman in this country of freedom and fairness. Well, I realize now that these rights in this country are granted to heterosexuals only. And until that changes, our work for equality is far from over.
I still do believe that the key to having inclusion and the exact same legal rights that all others have is to come out and not only that but live your life everyday in every way out of the closet. [Applause] I can only hope that one day we will be seen and treated as equals, but until that day is here, we must all remain visible.
I realize that it's not safe in all parts of our country to walk around holding your lover's hands. How can we change that? Well, hopefully, we do all the parts for different causes, be it the environment, the animals, health care issues, whatever. [Applause] But we all, for the most part, have one thing in common - we are gays and lesbians. So we must do our share for that. So how can we push that envelope a little further? "How?," you ask. Well, I spent a lot of the weekend here asking people what they do back home in their community. And here are a few samples: Chad, a doctor from Arizona, volunteers his time to AIDS patients. Sue from Delaware encouraged her place of employment to initiate domestic partnership benefits. Otherwise she was ready to walk away and guess what, she's gonna get them. [Applause] Bruce from Michigan participates in the Alaska AIDS Ride. Neil from Iowa writes letters to Congress. Thea and Shlomit from Rhode Island, they live their lives of lesbian moms out, hoping to serve as role models for others.
But many of you also said, "I would like to do more but I don't know how. I would like to do something but I don't know what." So here is my idea of what I think that each one of us can do. Take one day, just one day out of the year, and go home where you grew up. Talk to your favorite teacher - not the Phys Ed teacher, she already knows J [Applause and laughter] Talk to you minister, talk to the mayor, talk to your neighbor. And tell them how it is important that we need to be included in all houses of worship, how we need to be safe in every neighborhood, how all the schools have to be safe for all our children. So that in every neighborhood, every town, every state, in every corner of our country, we can be safe. I believe that this is how we can expand the area of where it is safe to walk down the street holding hands with your lover. So go home. If each one of us does this, chances are every school, every town, every church, every neighborhood, will be visited at least once, some maybe ten times. And that is the power of one. One day, one person. [Applause]
The last time I was here, in 1993, I spoke to you guys, and it was an amazing experience for me. I felt that was the first time I really belonged in this country. I was accepted by everybody here. [Applause] And I was so inspired that when we were driving back home, with 2 of my best friends, we were so inspired we wanted to do something for the community that lasts a little bit longer than just a great weekend. That's how the Rainbow card started and we raised over a million dollars for gay and lesbian causes in five years. [Applause] So this weekend, I'm sure, will inspire us again to do something more. I don't know what it is yet but we'll figure it out. And so I would like to challenge each one of you to do something a little bit more. And I know if you want to, you will find a way. So go home, talk to those people, let them see you, let them hear you.
Thank you very much for listening. It was a pleasure. Peace, love and happiness! And wait a minute, I took a photo here last time, so smile everybody!! [Martina moves to the center of the stage and takes a picture of the assembled crowd. Huge round of applause!]