goodness, life

It bends toward justice

Being an adult who keeps up with politics can be an emotional roller coaster.  We were electric the day Obama was elected president, but that evening I attended a protest in West Hollywood with a devastated crowd: Prop 8 had passed.  I stood among throngs of people, angry, confused and disappointed by their fellow Californians’ callousness, and held signs that asked passing cars, “When do I get to vote on your right to marry?”

I realize I never posted the photos I took there.  It seems appropriate to post them today to commemorate our disappointment and burning desire for equality.  Almost five years later, the nation has changed for the better.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  Let’s keep fighting.

media exposure was minimal, given Obama's election win that same day

media exposure was minimal, given Obama’s election win that same day

finally, those signs speak the truth.

finally, those signs speak the truth.



holding his adopted daughter, this man spoke eloquently to a reporter on the passage of prop 8

holding his adopted daughter, this man spoke eloquently to a reporter on the passage of prop 8

our numbers swelled, and eventually there were enough of us to claim the Santa Monica/San Vicente intersection

our numbers swelled, and eventually there were enough of us to claim the  intersection (today, it has rainbow-colored crosswalks)

we received a surprising amount of support from inconvenienced commuters as we marched east on Santa Monica Blvd

we received a surprising amount of support from inconvenienced commuters as we marched east on Santa Monica Blvd

she asked if she could climb onto his hood, but the taxi driver thought she was asking for a ride and yelled at her to get down

she asked if she could climb onto his hood, but the taxi driver thought she was asking for a ride and yelled at her to get down

the police were calm and gentle with the few protesters they arrested, including this man in the blue striped shirt (far left)

the police were calm and gentle with the few protesters they arrested

I stood with the people in this last photo in a kind of mutually respectful standoff with the police at Santa Monica Blvd and La Cienega.  There was a sense of defiance and desperation in the air.  An officer on a megaphone told us to get out of the road and back onto the sidewalk.  I stayed where I was, along with almost everyone else.  The officers were discussing something and pointing toward our section of the crowd.  I had positioned myself in the front of the group to get some good photos, and was rethinking that decision.  I thought about how much trouble I would be in with my very conservative, white, Republican boss if I didn’t show up for work the next day because I had been arrested at a protest for marriage equality.  There was a very real chance I might be fired, which worried me (the job market was gut-wrenchingly bad: I had put in 50 job applications, gotten two interviews, and one job offer in order to land that job, which I hated).  I took a breath and elongated my perspective; I saw my future self reflecting on this moment when I would quietly comply, or be escorted to a police car.  I stood very still.  As the officer approached us I felt a hand on my arm, and was gently pulled backwards into the crowd by a woman who seemed to be accustomed to attending protests like this.  “They’re going to arrest someone,” she said calmly.  “Back up.”

They took the guy on the far left in the blue striped shirt.  The crowd yelled and cheered as he was slowly led away toward a waiting police car.  No one harassed or boo’d the police.  We had effectively stopped traffic on two (now three) of the busiest streets in Los Angeles, and we recognized they were just doing their job, regardless of moral standing.

this should really feature her now famous neon sneakers, but who can complain?

this should really feature her now famous neon sneakers, but who can complain?

My Facebook feed is lit up today with support for the end of DOMA, the renewal of weddings for gay and lesbian couples in California as early as next month, and the federal legitimation of already existing gay and lesbian marriages.  But it was a victory for women of all sexual orientations today, too: Texas Senator Wendy Davis (D) successfully filibustered an anti-abortion bill that would have threatened to shut down “all but 5 of the 42 abortion clinics in the state.”  Thank you, Senator Davis.

As an English-speaking, American, white, employed, middle class graduate student, it’s easy for me to say: I dread not future, for I am its architect.  My goal as a teacher of English as a foreign language (and a supporter of marriage equality) is to share this sense of empowerment with others, every day, one word at a time, and watch as the arc of American history bends toward justice.

goodness, life

My old friend

I just found out another friend of mine from way back in the day (elementary school this time) is a big, fat lesbian.  I also found out she just got married (like two days ago).  The first thing that occurred to me was what a shitty friend I am not to have noticed that not only is she a lesbian, she’s also been dating someone seriously enough to marry her.  God I suck.

But good for them!  So exciting.  I wrote on her Facebook wall congratulating her, and letting her know how happy I was for her.  Then I started feeling all misty-eyed about Obama winning his second term, all the women taking office, all the gay rights measures that passed (4 for 4 ain’t too shabby), and I went a little overkill on the well-wishing.  I messaged her partner (now wife) to congratulate her, and to deliver a poorly veiled threat of violence if she messed with my old friend.

Hey Danielle,

I knew Charlene back in grade school, and though we’ve basically lost touch aside from being Fb friends, I wanted to let you know how happy I am for you both, and congratulate you on your wedding.

She and I sang in a choir together in our teens; I remember her being very kind, and sharp as a tack. She also struck me as a bit fragile. All the kids in school knew it had to be tough being the new kid whose father was the new pastor. And I remember James [her little brother] getting into trouble here and there. I realized during one of the fleeting moments of clarity I experienced in my early teens that she had a lot on her plate, but she handled it like a champ.

Please treat her well. She is, and will always be, my friend. Even if we haven’t spoken in years, I’ll still break your knees if you hurt her. Just kidding. But not really 🙂:)

Yes, I cried a little, sitting on the floor in my friend’s apartment while Obama was declared winner of the election.  But this really brought home what was at stake.  My old friend.  I am so happy for you.

happy tears in Minnesota over the smallest of victories: being told that your kind of love should not, after all, be outlawed


Human rights: a new anthem

I probably cry more at work nowadays than anywhere else, since it’s there that I read articles about the state of the world, and find videos like this.

Upworthy is right: equality just found a new anthem.

But now what?  What can I do?  Watching a video, clicking ‘like’ is not enough.  What now?  What do I do now?

badness, life

Then my heart broke

I found this video today of some completely average-looking people asking for marriage licenses in North Carolina.  They all get calmly rejected because they’re gay.  Then they cry.  Then I cry.  Then my heart breaks.

I don’t understand the problem people have with gay marriage.  I just don’t get it.  I’ve never heard an argument against gay marriage made calmly that didn’t evoke a Judeo-Christian belief system.  We don’t all have to be religious to be American.  To be American is to be a member of a diverse group of citizens.  At what point do some get rights others do not simply because they’re different?  It just doesn’t make any sense.

goodness, life

Small miracles

Today I read an article that made me cry a little.  Yeah, everyone knows I’m a big softy with a sharp mouth.  This one made my heart grow three sizes.

It’s so rare to hear good news that involves an interaction between the religious community and the gay community, but that’s exactly what this article is: a beautiful little story where a priest and a gay dude in his undies smiled and understood each other.

Grab a tissue and read it here.  Then share it.

badness, life

The boycott begins

Ok seriously, wtf is wrong with people?  This whole anti-gay movement is just… bizarre.
I came across this article about how Chic-fil-A is ani-gay marriage, and I wonder when I’ll get used to this level of intolerance.  It just continues to blow my mind.  Will I ever not feel shock and revulsion?  I wonder when it will stop.  I had a chat about this issue with someone who voted yes on prop 8, and the conversation degenerated into something like this:
me: Everyone should be allowed to get married.
him: But marriage is between a man and a woman, everyone knows that.
me: Says who?
him: I’m not sure why I have to explain this part.  Where do people get married?  In a church.
me: Or in front of a judge.
him: Well, if they want to, but let’s be honest, people get married in a church.
me: If they’re Christian, yeah.
him: Right, and that’s what we’re talking about.
me: Says who?  You’re jumping to conclusions, not everyone in the world is Christian.
him: We’re talking about America.
me: Not everyone in America is Christian.
him: Most of them are, and that’s the point.  The majority rules, and the majority of people are straight men and women who would marry in a church.  So when they vote, that’s how they’ll vote, and that’s their right.
me: You’ve missed the point completely.  If they were voting for their own rights, that would make perfect sense, but they’re voting on the rights of others.  They’re restricting the rights of others for no reason.
him: Of course there’s a reason; marriage is between a man and a woman.
me: Ok, what’s the point of a law?  To protect people.
What if gays could marry?  Who would get hurt?  Who are we protecting by preventing gays from being allowed to get married?
him: Well the whole idea of marriage is between a man and a woman.
me: But that’s not the point of marriage, right?  The point is to spend the rest of your life with someone you love.
him: Then they can say, “I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”  What’s wrong with that?
me: Are you asking me why a legal marriage certificate is a necessary part of marriage?  It’s not.  It’s a benefit that you’re withholding from certain people because of their sexual orientation.  That’s illegal.
him: If it was illegal, it wouldn’t have been on the ballot.
me: Did you know that our president’s parents weren’t allowed to get married because one’s black and one’s white?
him: …No, actually, I didn’t.
me: I don’t see a difference here.
him: Well of course there’s a difference, you can tell just by looking at someone if they’re black or white.
me: So if all gays had a rainbow tattoo on their forehead, the two scenarios would no longer be different?  Just because you can tell them apart from straights?

Then the topic magically got changed.

I just don’t get it.