Today has been one of those days. I've found myself welling up three times already today over bits and pieces from our community. Each time I've felt these things so deeply they've made me ache inside.
1. Mexican Is the New Gay
Without going into much details on this first one, I was flirting with a guy online; he's latino. I asked him where he was from and he said, "I'm from Mexico. I hope that's okay." Okay? Okay!?
Apparently, if gay is the new black, Mexican is the new gay. Does this damned merry-go-round ever stop? Why would it not be okay what country he was from? France, Japan, Mexico or East Timor? I just can't imagine what it must be like to follow it up with, "I hope that's okay."
Maybe it's just seeing the whole "Blame The Blacks" meme whip through the queer community recently, but I'm feeling really sick about some of the overt racism that's floated through my world lately.
2. I Feel the Anger In His Voice
A mob of queers chased a group of Christian proselytizers out of the Castro last night. Video was promptly uploaded to YouTube, of course. I have to admit that my first instinct was to say, "They shouldn't have been there" and dismiss it as that. I feel the same anger at the religious right; they've stoked the embers of this confrontation for centuries. And going into the Castro to preach after nights of protests? Idiotic.
I think the first thing I said to Jerame on the morning after election day was, "I hope they riot or something to show people we're not fucking going to take this shit anymore." Of course, I didn't really mean it, but it was the base instinct - the primal urge. Last night the mob bayed and I have to admit to a certain thrill as I clicked the video this morning. See the guy yelling directly into the camera at 1:58? I couldn't watch past him without bawling.
I feel his anger deeply. I want to scream and shout - not just about marriage, but about the blows I've taken for being queer, the lack of basic housing and employment protections most of our community still lacks, the queer youth selling themselves on the streets after their "loving" parents kick them out, for all of it. I want retribution.
But what would it solve? There have been plenty of violent revolutions in the history of the world and very few have ever had a positive ending. This would be no different. I feel his anger, but I also realize how crazed he looks; he reminds me of the Arabic men I see on the TV whooping and yelling in the streets of the Middle East as they bay for blood. It shocks me back to my senses and I'm terrified at how deeply I feel that anger.
At my lowest moment this afternoon, I got an e-mail from a regular reader and commenter. I asked him if I could share some of what he wrote, but I'm not publishing his name; if he wants to share that, he can do it in the comments section.
His e-mail reduced me to tears; I couldn't finish it in one sitting.
46 years old and I attended my first rally for ANYTHING this past Saturday! I have to tell you, I have never been a very political person. Having been tied up in the 'gay scene' and more interested in how I looked than what was going on around me. Because of blogs like yours and a few others, I am more politically aware than I have ever been in my life! Yes, it is about time that I grew up... If there were rallies for anything in St. Louis previously - besides the occasional Union picketer - then I wasn't aware of them.
I tried to rally my gay friends into going, but most people had better things to do or were working or just weren't interested in going to a rally. It was pretty sad to get so little interest from friends. I had never been to a rally, and being the wallflower that I am - was a little scared to go down there by myself; I didn't know what to expect. My only point of reference was the yelling and screaming I see on TV at other rallies for whatever across the nation...some getting violent. I talked to my friend Jay, and he said he would go with me if I wanted to go. Jay and I walked there from his loft apartment downtown and it was very cold and windy on the trip there.
I was pretty nervous about going to my first rally....and when we rounded the corner, we saw a huge crowd gathered around the Court House in downtown St. Louis... Upon seeing the crowd, my mood immediately changed from skepticism to exuberance! In addition, the freezing cold I felt before completely disappeared! With the St. Louis Arch in the background, we could see hundreds of people gathering on the steps of the court house and on the sidewalk... We had about 1500 people at the peak of the rally, and while I expected a lot of chanting and the like, I didn't hear any chanting at all! Only speeches - one after another.
There were high school students talking about the support of their parents who were also in the crowd. Mayor Slay of St. Louis talked about his two gay sisters and gay brother and how proud of them he was. Actor Chad Allen, who was in town working in a theatre production, talked about his partner of 3 years and how much he loved him. The speeches were moving, and I had tears in my eyes on more than one occasion.
Didn't mean to rant, but it was a moving experience for this first-time rallier!
He gets it. My faith is restored. We are rising up and demanding our rights. We're doing it peacefully - time after time, bit by bit, and person after person. The protests around the country have been 99.9% non-violent - and the last one didn't turn violent after the police stepped in to escort the Christians out of the Castro.
My e-mailer gets that. He doesn't want our civil rights to be tainted either, but he's upset enough to hit the streets for his first rally. Many of us - across the nation - are finally willing to hit the street. We feel the anger.
But vindication? Vindication is getting more and more people - from all gender identities and sexual orientations - to stand with us to say "No More." We do it peacefully. We change the world with our deeds and actions; we have to meet the example set by Gandhi and King.
I see the violence we cause each other in my Mexican friend. I see the violence that eats us up inside in the Castro mob. I can see the brown and black whirls of smoke and shit winding around us as we feed our own coals with seething resentment and fling insults and derogatory stereotypes like monkeys in the zoo cheerfully greeting visitors.
Sometimes we're no better than the very same groups we condemn - we just hide some of our business a little better. Seeing honorable individuals like my e-mailer stand up for justice, well, it makes you want to cry.