Toward a More Perfect Union

Boy with Flag. Photo by Callen Harty.

America, I have some issues to discuss with you before I can celebrate you.

There is much you have accomplished that has been inspiring and there is much that you have done that is cause for shame. As a nation you have contributed a great deal to science, literature, politics, and more. Perhaps your greatest contribution has been the promise of the founding fathers, that all of us are created equal. But it is still only a promise, America. It is a promise written in a wind that has blown you off course. It is a dream interrupted. I say to you, America, you have much to do to fulfill the promise. You have much to do to bring our dreams to fruition. You have much to do before I can celebrate you.

America, my African American brothers and sisters are not treated equally under your flag. My queer brethren are not yet equal members of your society. Women are not equal in pay and in many other ways in this country. There are many others. There are starving children, America, there are homeless men and women on the doorsteps of your government buildings. There are promises that must be fulfilled, America. It is time.

Whatever has been accomplished by you that is good cannot be rested upon. The moment you stop reaching for better is the moment your decline and fall and your ultimate demise is ensured. America, are you happy with the health and welfare of your people? If you are, then the dream is already lost.

America, I want to celebrate you. I want to love you–not for past glory, not for words that are beautiful on paper but empty when they are not backed up by actions. I want to love you for sheltering all of your people in the bosom of liberty, for caring for the least of your children, for making all of us equal under the eyes of the law, as promised so many years ago. I want to love you for making the dream a reality.

I promise I will do my share. I will continue to work and look toward a more perfect union, America, and I beg you to join me. You will feel better about yourself and you could be the shining example for the world that you wish to be now. End your endless wars, feed your children, end all of the inequalities that exist from sea to shing sea. Forgive yourself for the sins of your past. Love yourself and your people. Let liberty be for all. If you can do that I will celebrate you. I will love you and I will share that love with the world.

America, fulfill your promise. Let me dream of even greater promises. Let me love and celebrate you with all that I have. It is time, America. It is past time.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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