There's a saying in the 12 Step programs about being sick and tired of being sick and tired.
It's at this point - generally your own personal version of rock bottom - that you surrender and admit something has been screwing up your life.
Well - I guess that's where I am now. I'm sick and tired of hope.
I was in the room in 1991 - before there were drugs to help "manage" HIV/AIDS - when candidate Bill Clinton went off script and said to a theater full of angry and pained gays and people with AIDS, "I have a vision and you're a part of it." Even without close advisors David Mixner or Bob Hattoy whispering in his ear - Clinton wanted and sought and got the LGBT/PWA vote - because things were soooo bad under Reagan/Bush.
And then he included us in the Inauguration - gay families on the family float - panels from the AIDS Quilt - a LGBT viewing corner along the parade route - meetings between LGBT and AIDS activists with transition team members - including Hattoy - who spoke at the Democratic National Convention, and Tim Westmoreland.
As everyone knows - Clinton screwed up royally over "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and DOMA - and tons of other points of triangulation. But everyone knew he was more conservative than LGBT/PWAs wanted. And at least he saw us. He seemed to "feel our pain." We weren't people who happened to be gay - we had been officially shut out and he knew it. And so did those around him - like Maya Angelou whose poem on Inauguration Day "Good Morning" still fills me with - well, the possibility of hope that we can at some point see each other for all our differences and celebrate that with civility.
Today - when it was revealed that Obama picked Rick Warren to deliver the Inaugural Invocation - I felt sucker-punched. I mean - after the (on-going) devastation of Prop 8 - this Inauguration was supposed to be something akin to breathing again. But instead my mind drifted to the opening graph of the famous book by Ralph Ellison - "The Invisible Man."
"I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me."
At the end of the book, Ellison writes: "Perhaps, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you."
Yes. It's not that Obama thinks of this as a "Sister Souljah" moment as I first thought. The fact is - Obama doesn't think of us at all. The gays who might be near him are staffers who happen to be gay and for whom being gay is apparently not an issue. He doesn't see them as gay - and therefore he doesn't see us at all.
What to do? Well, for one - expect nothing from this new president. Let the national organizations push to their hearts content. But the real work will be on the ground - locally, statewide and through grassroots networking and coalition building. Through the Victory Fund and electing our own. Through the political clubs and electing delegates to rise up through the ranks to start running the parties. There are as many options as there are creative imaginations among us. Let us be the visionaries. At least we see each other.
Now that's a cause for hope.