California

As I watched the scenes of unbridled joy last night streaming in from Grant Park, I was getting excited g-chat messages from friends. But I was distracted.

Virgin and I were g-chatting back and forth, anxiously looking at the returns from California. Prop 8 was winning, and we were growing distraught as we hit the refresh button.

Where are the returns from San Francisco?

What is going on in LA?

Did you see San Diego?

I want to revel in the moment of Obama’s win, but I feel sad and bitter.

I have wondered many, many times, what is it that is so threatening about gay people?

I haven’t come up with a good answer. Now that I have a child, I have noticed that some of the very first messages you give someone are about gender. Before a child is born, you draw a line Girl | Boy. Maybe some people see gays as transgressing an identity that was created for them at birth. Maybe this is deeply threatening.

One of the most frustrating things to me is when I hear that these marriage laws don’t hurt anyone. I want to tell you a story. The women who sued to get married in MA are named the Goodriches. Hillary Goodrich gave birth to their daughter. She had a complicated birth and delivery. She ended up with a C-section. Julie was in the room with her. Once their daughter was delivered, she was rushed off for more intensive medical care down the hall. Julie ran after her new baby, but was stopped at the end of the hallway. She was not this child’s mother. So she turned around to rejoin her partner, but at the other end of the hall, she was stopped again. Who was she? She could not rejoin Hillary.

The idea of being in the back of the bus is an image African Americans use to talk about the oppression they have faced. This image of Julie Goodrich being stuck in the hallway of the hospital, unable to join her daughter or her wife, will always be the symbol of inequality in my mind.

I know there are a lot of straight people out there who really, really get this issue. I read their blogs. In my real life, I have known so many people who go out of their way to let me know they support my family. In some ways, this makes it even harder, because a part of me thinks we are so close.  We just haven’t hit critical mass.

America has been through a lot. There is a saying in AA. Hurt people, hurt people. I do have hope. I hope with this new president, some of our old wounds will start to heal. The wounds of racial injustice, but also the wounds of two wars, and a divisive domestic agenda. For 8 years now, Rove has waved the lives of gay people in front of the Christians, like a red flag in front of a bull. I am hoping there is a new conversation. A new way forward.

And if America’s wounds begin to heal, maybe her heart can expand too. And our nation will see that gays and lesbians simply want to live in peace, and under the same laws the govern everyone else’s life.

One thing about being a parent. You are always reminded of the future. This morning my son jumped out of his crib and ran over to the window. He had heard the birds and he wanted to see them. There is always the hope that our children will be better than us. That they will be less frightened, less fucked up, less hurtful.

So my joy is not unbridled. But America, I still believe in you.

 

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12 thoughts on “California

  1. I was so terribly disappointed to hear the outcome this morning. I just can’t understand why people would deny basic legal rights to another human just because of sexual orientation. This isn’t a religious thing for me, because when I got married, it wasn’t in a church, or before G_d, it was in front of a judge who said he had powers vested in him by the state we lived in, and it was good enough for me. Why can’t it be good enough for everyone?

  2. I thought Prop 8 was much more important for California than the presidential election. I was very disappointed, but I believe we’ll get there eventually. I just wanted to see it now.

  3. This was a beautiful post!

    When I had my daughter, I knew I wanted her to live in a world where everyone was treated equally no matter who they were. It breaks my heart my gay friends can’t marry the ones they love.

    While I’m hopeful for our future with President-elect Obama, last night showed us that we still have a long, long way to go.

  4. I am also so deeply disappointed and absolutely fucking offended that Proposition 8 passed (as well as the propositions in other states). But I think what strikes me most about your post is the way you ended it – how can people think “gays” are a threat to the US when you have been repeatedly been beat up by it and still believe in the greater good of our country? I hope we don’t keep letting you down, but I do think the closeness of the vote means something, given the margins with which a similar measure passed several years ago. It’s not enough, but I suppose it’s something.

  5. This is one of the best blog posts I have read in a long time, and perhaps ever. Thank you for speaking out so eloquently, and I know that voices like yours will make a difference over time, if not right away.

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