Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Fellow American...

Where to begin? As it has been said, it is best, I suppose, to start at the beginning...
There is a reason we won't go back in the closet. As with any other human being on this planet, we are human beings, first and foremost. We have hopes and dreams, fears and failings, desires, ambitions, happy thoughts and sad, and we have lives.

We are brothers and sisters; we are mothers and fathers; we are sons and daughters; we are grandsons and granddaughters; we love and are loved. We eat, drink, laugh, cry, love and hate; we sing in the shower, yell at people who cut us off on the freeway, scream at the television when something pisses us off...

And we do get pissed off. Much like anyone would be when their lives are up for "popular vote."

We are not a nameless mass huddled in a dark corner ashamed to exist, although there are some who would like to make us feel that way. We do not have horns and forked tales and carry pitchforks trying to "recruit" people into the homosexual "lifestyle." As Harvey Milk once said, "I was born of heterosexual parents, taught by heterosexual teachers... If it were true that children mimicked their teachers, there'd be a hell of a lot more nuns running around." Much like red hair, left-handedness, even a white child born to African American parents, we just happen. We are not of the devil, we are not because we were molested as children, we are not some degenerate throw-backs--we are PEOPLE. We come in all colors, exist in all nations, adhere to a plurality of religious backgrounds and traditions, as well as a plurality of orientations. We are born of you, raised by you, loved and hated by you, work with you, shop with you, employ and are employed by you--but we are not a virus, a plague, nor are we lesser than you, my fellow American.

We are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and yes, we are transgendered and transsexual. We are male and female and somewhere between, and we are all human beings with the same inalienable rights. You know us, whether you like to admit it or not. We exist, whether or not you'd prefer to acknowledge it. You are entitled to your opinion, and on most days, any American would be happy to respect it...

But not today.

Today I am angry. If you would have put women's suffrage up for a "popular vote"? It would have lost, and you would have heard that women should just be grateful that God provided them with husbands and children that needed cared for. It was their "proper place," being in the home, without right to land, money, or even a vote to voice an opinion. Civil rights for African Americans? Wouldn't have had a prayer. Children's labor laws? Perish the thought! The Civil War? You know, the one where we fought tooth and nail just for the right to exist as a new nation, to not suffer under horrible taxation laws, no right to trial, presumed guilty unless by some miracle proven innocent? Two thirds of the people living in America at the time of the American Civil War were AGAINST the war!

Because people, ultimately first and foremost, fear what they do not know, cringe from change, find comfort in the status quo. When Kennedy was running for president, the largest fear was that the Pope would run American politics. It took years and years of Catholics running for office before Kennedy even had a prayer of winning! Change comes slowly when people fear the unknown, and I suppose I find small comfort in the fact.

Very small comfort.

But when you know someone who is gay? It's much harder for you to put up their lives for a "popular vote." That's also just another simple fact, do with it what you will. For the longest time, it was thought that homosexuals were the principle perpetrators of child molestation when in fact it is 95% of men who identify as straight and are usually related to the child who commit these vile acts. It was thought that gays were "demon infested"--sadly, something still thought of as true not only in small pockets of the United States, but in countries the world over as well. It was thought to have been "caused" by having been molested, or having a "distant" father or "overbearing mother," none of which is even remotely true. Ask us, we'll tell you. We'll set the record straight, if you'll pardon the pun.

There's a reason we won't just be "happy" to live quiet lives so you can remain ignorant, so you can raise more gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and transsexual children, ignorantly telling them their entire lives that they are wrong, that they are sick, that they are perverts! YOUR CHILDREN! Ignorance is not an excuse. Naivete is no longer an option. That's who were are! That's who we will always be. Your children. And when you pulled that lever to say "We don't want gays marrying!" guess whose happiness and dreams you've just put up for a vote? It wasn't some nameless mass of "gays" four states away and a world apart. It was people you see every day. It was your fellow American. It was your children.

When I woke up this morning and saw the news that Maine voters had overturned same-sex marriage in their state, I was not shocked. "Saddened," perhaps. "Angry" most certainly! But shocked? I hadn't even dared to hope.

But there's a reason I do now. There's a reason I hope once more.

You see, back in the 1970s there was a state-by-state banning of gay civil rights, started by Anita Bryant. State by state she helped states repeal or ban ordinances that protected homosexuals from being fired or denied housing just for being gay. Not based on job performance, mind you, or credit scores, or anything else even remotely objective--back in the 1970s, you could be fired or evicted just for being a gay human being. But, of course, it was the "morally correct" action to make sure these homosexuals didn't have basic human rights (as if denying someone the right to earn a living and live in a decent home could even be remotely spun as a moral thing to do!) And state by state, the moral majority was mostly successful! Just shy of forty years ago, California was the first state to take a stand and say, "We will protect all of our citizens!" and did not bow to the immorality of the moral majority. It became illegal, in 1978, when I was two years old, to discriminate against an individual because of their sexual orientation in the state of California...

Now 30 states protect persons from such discrimination, and by years' end, it should be federally illegal to do so (thus mandatory in all 50 states...) And while I am sad to say, my state covers sexual orientation and gender identity only if you actually happen to work for the state (i.e., it is not one of the thirty states), thirty states is more than the one state almost forty years ago...

Indeed, change comes slowly, but it does come. And as angry as I am right now, I do have that hope that, perhaps in forty more years, it won't just be five states that allow people to share their love and joy through marriage (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire), but all fifty states. In forty more years, I hope that you, America, will recognize what a dumb bachagaloop you've been--putting human rights up for a vote?!

Once you have said it is okay to do to one minority group, others aren't far behind. Hitler, too, had a shopping list. And considered himself quite a good Christian.

Offended by that analogy? Offended enough to rethink your approach to human rights?

After all, I, too, am an American. It's just that I happen to be gay as well. Is that really a reason to tell me I cannot marry the man I love? Is it?

In forty years, look back on this moment, dear voters in Maine. Look back at what you voted on.

You voted to deny a fellow American the right to marriage.

A fellow American.

I hope you feel proud.

1 comment:

FCSuper said...

I've come to the conclusion that the political organizations claiming to protect gay rights are more focused on fundraising than on trying to protect rights. That's kinda what I found here in California. I mean, if prop 8 had failed, they'd have no reason to ask for money until the next election cycle, right? They put on a miserable campaign that started long after most of the absentee ballots where cast. And they didn't address the main points often enough, instead getting caught up in a tit-for-tat tally of commercials that lost the point. They totally missed who their target audience was. No examples of discrimination where actually demonstrated in any of the commercials or literature at all. As far as I remember, there was only one commercial that draw in the target audience. They need to target older voters with examples that older people can relate to. They need to be targeting homophobic white men who don't want to here how homophic they are, but again shown examples that they can relate to. Homophobic white men were not addressed at all in CA. Older voters where briefly targeted, but the campaign started so late, large numbers of them already voted for Prop 8.