“It feels like a personal attack.”
I heard at least five different people say this or something similar on the night of November 4. While friends of mine rejoiced in the streets after Obama’s win, I walked glumly by. “Yeah that’s great, but… I just lost some of my rights.” I stayed home from work on November 5. When I finally stumbled out of my apartment to get to class later that day, I remember glaring at people on the street. ‘Would you take my rights away? Don’t I deserve to take care of my family?’
The major bum-iness subsided after a few days, leaving me a little hurt and a lot confused. After spending the better part of a year working for the movement, fighting for LGBT equality, had I really accomplished anything?
I didn’t point fingers. Everyone was equally to blame for the passage of Prop 8. The opposition was sneaky, well-funded (overly so, IMHO. To quote Wanda Sykes, “The California food banks, their shelves are bare. Instead of spending your money on hate, why don’t you buy a couple of cans of pork and beans? Pork and beans, they stick to your ribs, they don’t fill you up like hate).† And our side made mistakes, too.
But I’ve been overjoyed by the visibility and support from our community and allies. I was lucky enough to attend both big rallies last month in New York City. Here are videos of the events that I produced for GLAAD:
Sure, some might ask, “where were these public displays before November 4?” But I disagree. This was a wake-up call. My generation is more involved than ever, and I’m confident for the future. 2010, here we come!
† I’ve lately had this weird food association with Wanda Sykes, ever since she was the talking apple in those Applebees commercials. So despite the fact that I had just eaten dinner, when she started talking about pork and beans, I was starving. Wanda, you make a boy wanna eat somethin’ now! Love you!
Four years ago, I lost a dear friend to suicide.
Arthur “Bob” Markus was 13, gay, and constantly ostracized by his peers. It’s horrifying to imagine, the pressures of adolescence magnified a hundredfold by daily taunts and jeers at school.
This is the ultimate tragedy. There are so many outside forces, many beyond our own control, that can lead to our own demise. We watch them on the nightly news: wars, sinking ships, hurricanes. But when it comes from the inside, a soul so broken that there is no turning back, what is left?
Here’s a quick “Valentine’s Day shout-out” to the hometown.
California clerk/recorder Freddie Oakley gave out 20 “Certificates of Inequality” yesterday to gay and lesbian couples. Oakley is an elected official in charge of issuing marriage certificates in Yolo County region, which includes the cities of Woodland, Davis [Whoo!], Winters, and West Sacramento.
“After the noon rush, many of the applicants stood in the clerk’s office and serenaded Oakley with a chorus of ‘For She’s a Jolly Good Person.’
‘Thank you very, very much, I appreciate it,’ Oakley said.”
What’s even more encouraging about this story, Oakley is an Evangelical Christian. Unlike many of her religious peers, she actually gets the importance of separation of church and state. “I don’t think that religion belongs at the office. I think it’s wrong. I don’t go down and tell my pastor how to preach and I don’t want him to stand behind my counter….I think [taking a stand] absolutely is [the place of a puclic official]. In fact, I think it’s our duty. We don’t just enforce laws, we’re policy makers. If I’m comfortable in my morale [sic] heart that I’m doing the right thing, then let the chips fall where they may.”
Unfortunately, not every Christian shares her views. The number of protestors at the event rivaled that of supporters. And although she is still widely supported, backlash from her actions have obliged Oakley to resign membership from her church.
Keep strong, Ms. Oakley. Thank you for sticking your neck out there to show how discrimination against LGBT citizens still exists at many levels of government. I just hope that sometime in the near future, Freddie Oakley will be able to hand me an honest, legal certificate.