Posts Tagged ‘activism’
One of About Face Theatre's many supporters emailed me recently with this call for help to keep the theatre's doors open, staff paid, and the youth theatre program intact. If you can help, please do.Read More
Have you heard that Ken Starr -- and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund -- filed legal briefs defending the constitutionality of Prop 8 and attempting to forcibly divorce 18,000 same-sex couples that were married in California last year?Read More
Here's the new music video for queer rapper MC Fine called "Created Equal." It's a fantastic take on precisely why measures like Proposition 8 are oppressive.Read More
The life of late San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk in the context of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. This animated documentary charts a time-line of the life of the first openly gay man elected to public office in between events in other civil rights struggles. Produced by Causecast for Focus Features, the piece celebrates the release of the film MILK, in theaters November 26.
I haven’t seen Milk yet – or read many reviews, because I’m waiting to see it for myself first. Hopefully I’ll go this week.
Have you seen it? What’d you think, what were your reactions?
This has been played & overplayed on the blogs I read this week, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you must. I love the conviction in his voice, the passion, the drive. Bottle just a thumbnail of that and keep it wrapped in your chest when you need respite.
We can do this, we can get through this, we can fix this, we can change this.
Dear Mr. Sexsmith:
Enough moping already.
In case you haven’t noticed, it is day three and Barack fucking Obama is still the presidential elect. Hello, even his name is radical! None of that Franklin George James John William. We didn’t just imagine that beautiful acceptance speech in our progressive liberal little heads. He’s already started a fantastic website for his Transition Project at www.change.gov and I have never felt so connected before to my government.
Yeah, maybe the expectations are pretty goddamn low after the most unpopular president in modern history. But still, Obama is positioned to be a fantastic leader and creator of change – and, more than that, an inspiration: not only the first black man elected president but also a progressive, liberal, forward-thinking, grassroots-organizing problem-solver who is positioned to help heal the (supposed) divisiveness of the red-state-vs-blue-state divide in this country.
I, like this country and like the rest of the world, am currently crushed out on Obama – and that doesn’t necessarily last, I know. I’m sure eventually we’ll start discovering that he never eats the heel of the loaf of bread or he always leaves his socks in the middle of the floor or he forgets to put the bathmat down, but meanwhile, the honeymoon phase sure is fun, isn’t it?
And maybe, what if, just possibly, the relationship develops into a solid, steady improvement? What if we have common values, common interests, good communication, mutual adoration?
Ah, courtship. I love that feeling of such raw potential.
Speaking of adoration, I am consistently touched whenever I see President-Elect Obama with First Lady-Elect Michelle. (I bet you can’t really use “First Lady-Elect” like that, but I like it.) They adore each other, and it’s beautiful.
What? What’s that? Oh, that little gay marriage thing? Those millions of people who voted that straight marriage is different than gay marriage? That marriage is a “sacred institution” that gays would defile and corrupt?
Or how about the little bee in all of our queer activist bonnets when we realized that voters care about chickens, but not about gay marriage? Or when voters passed 9 out of 10 marijuana initiatives on Tuesday, but gay marriage is still seen as the destruction “the family”?
Yeah, it sucks.
But HELLO, did you think this was going to be easy? Remember what you’re doing here: dismantling the heteronormative nuclear family through both the institutional religion and bias and tradition of the church AND the monolithic ultimate power of the government.
Did you think that was just going to happen overnight?
Did you think the conservative bigots were just going to hand it to us?
Did you think it would be easy?
How can I write about anything except politics right now? Obama, Obama, Obama. Fivethirtyeight had the projections almost completely accurate. I didn’t see too many major voting mishaps – aside from the long lines at polling places which, as we all know by now, are the new “poll tax.” Which is reassuring! In the last few days I kept hearing, “things are looking good for us, but remember: they cheat.”
So, thank the gods. I’m glad we all got to vote. I’m glad each of our votes counted. I’m so glad to see Obama victorious.
But … then there’s the gay stuff. Prop 8 in California, Prop 102 in Arizona, Prop 2 in Florida. Initiative 1 in Arkansas. Connecticut and Colorado were victories, but with the other four I’m feeling pretty defeated this morning.
I’m angry about this election. I am so grateful for Obama’s landslide win, don’t get me wrong. He ran a fantastic campaign and he did some incredibly gracious, beautiful things with the entire United States, in every place he visited – he wasn’t purely focused on the battleground states, he wasn’t ignoring the South just because it was a given that it’d go red.
But I’m angry about all the other propositions that passed. The literally millions of people who think that me, my relationship, my love, my orientation, my body’s wiring, my queerness is somehow a threat to them, somehow damaging to their way of life, somehow harmful, somehow detrimental to society, somehow bad and wrong and evil.
I take personal offense to these results.
It’s so hard not to. I try pretty hard to ignore the gay marriage activism that are going on in this country – ever since DOMA I’ve been only increasingly discouraged. I’ve written about this recently – my hesitation to think that the gay marriage fight is the end-all be-all of gay activism, that gay marriage is going to get us accepted into the “normal” club. Well, maybe I don’t want to be in the “normal” club.
But this time, I got involved. I got all crazy with 8 Against 8, I read every post Lesbian Dad kept eloquently writing, I researched the state of gay marriage in the US for weeks. I got invested. I named the puppy. I – in my liberal progressive hippie love-will-prevail idealist brain – was not prepared for such a defeat.
Gay marriage is going to revert to being illegal in California. Californians just voted to legally and specifically discriminate against a group of marginalized people. To explicitly and intentionally make us second-class citizens. Less than.
What about Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin’s widow, who just months ago made their more than fifty-year relationship completely equal, valued, valid, legitimate, in the eyes of California law? God I hope they had a good lawyer who put all sorts of forms and documents in place. How stupid and fucked up and time consuming and wasteful that Phyllis and Del even had to go through that, to do the research to figure out what rights and privileges, precisely, they were being denied because they couldn’t get married, and pay a lawyer to draw up the corresponding papers, and enter into a legal agreement with each other.
[It reminds me of If These Walls Could Talk 2, the first segment, with Vanessa Redgrave. Watch it, if you haven’t seen it. I guarantee it will break your heart, but kind of in a good way.]
I want to go back and study the history of interracial marriage – also called miscegenation, which is a great word I don’t know if I knew until today – and see how it was finally overturned. Was it state-by-state? So-called “activist judges?” Did this country watch as, one at a time, states added their own constitutional amendments banning interracial marriage? Were there Mayors who were radical enough to marry interracial couples anyway? How did it finally get overturned? I’ve never been much of a historian, really, I’m much more interested in what’s happening right now, in front of me, how this current system works – and of course it’s important to know where we came from to know how the current system works, but still, I didn’t understand history until I started studying the history of my people, the queers and gender-variants and radicals and revolutionaries.
But still, I don’t have a firm grasp on this particular American activist history, and I want to know how it worked before, because I want it to work again. Because maybe after I know one storyline’s success, I’ll be comforted. Because I’ll remember that it took hundreds of years to gain that particular right to marry, and then I’ll remember that this fight is young, that, despite our headway, there is much farther to go.
I know there is much to celebrate. Perhaps I am taking Obama’s win too much for granted. I know I have a particularly “biased” perspective because I grew up with activist parents in liberal communities; I spend my times in progressive activist circles and queer communities in big cities. There is a piece of me that is saying, “of course Obama was elected, how could it possibly be any other way?” But I said that about Gore and Kerry too, despite that Gore did win the popular vote (don’t get me started) and I’ve seen cardboard cutouts of people that have more personality than Kerry.
Clearly I don’t have a very good grasp on the reality of this country. On how conservative Republicans are capable of organizing people to vote against their own best interest in the name of “values.”
I’ve seen some posts around today already that say having Obama in office we are poised for a Federal lift on the ban on gay marriage, but honestly I don’t know if I believe that. Of course I’d like to think so, sure, but then there’s DOMA, and “37 states have their own Defense of Marriage Acts [and] … 27 states have constitutional amendments.” (source.)
Make that 30, as of November 2008: Arizona, Florida, California.
Times like these I wish I knew more about politics, and history. How can we lift these constitutional amendments out of the states? Do the voters have to vote again? Who can overturn DOMA at the Federal level? Do we need it to go through the courts, or through voting? Do we need certain Supreme Court members in order to have these things overturned? How do we get a Federal constitutional amendment that protects the rights of minorities?
We couldn’t even get something written into the Federal constitution that says that women are equal to men. Remember the ERA? Failed. Failed, failed, failed. It has been introduced in front of every Congress since 1982, and yet we still do not have anything official that says women are equal to men. Is that really so radical, so influential, that there is such opposition to it?
And correct me if I’m wrong here, I am not a constitutional scholar, but: I thought constitutions were for guaranteeing rights, not for taking them away.
Despite that I do understand what people say about the threat of gay marriage, I don’t really understand. I just don’t. Why? Why why why are we so threatening? On bad days – like this one, when literally millions of people voted against my very personal right, my very personal decision to get married – my heart fills up with emotion and I feel like a little kid after another kid yells, “I HATE YOU!” My eyes well up. I didn’t do anything to you. Just – why?
Here’s what gay marriage is: it’s commitment. Building a family, possibly taking care of children, or dogs or cats or hamsters or fish. Finding someone to share your life with. Taking care of each other. Being better together than you are alone.
And here’s what gay marriage is: love.
The simple act of loving another person. Maybe I forget how difficult love is for so many of us. Maybe I’m forgetting that love is often beaten out of us before we are even able to critically think about the world around us, just by nature of growing up in this culture. It really is revolutionary, isn’t it? Just the act of who I love could change the world, and is changing politics.
Despite my frustration at the horrible steps back that we are taking, there is hope. There is change happening.
Obama’s acceptance speech was especially moving. He slipped “gay” right in there with that long list of American identity descriptors – “young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled” – as if it belonged. As if it was no better or worse than any of those other things.
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.
It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.
We are, and always will be, the United States of America.
(Full text of Obama’s presidential acceptance speech here, though I do suggest watching the video – he is such an impressive orator.)
I just have to keep remembering: let the soft animal of my body love what it loves. I can do that. I have to do that. I will do that, despite that my government says it’s not good enough. I know, I really do know, underneath it all, under the pink of my skin, in the nest of my heart, that it is enough – that I am enough – that we, my beautiful community, are enough.
UPDATE, 7pm EST: I know, I know, it’s not completely 100% official yet: the No on Prop 8 folks haven’t given up, and a recount has been demanded. But last count, Yes on 8 was ahead 400,000 votes. Not an easy thing to make up.
Legal Groups File Lawsuit Challenging Proposition 8, Should It Pass: “The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a writ petition before the California Supreme Court today urging the court to invalidate Proposition 8 if it passes. The petition charges that Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group — lesbian and gay Californians.”
Also: There’s a protest rally tonight in West Hollywood: We Shall Not Be Overlooked. Wednesday, November 5, 2008, 7:00pm – 10:00pm, San Vicente Blvd between West Hollywood Park and the Pacific Design Center (647 N San Vincente Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA).
Guest post from Allison Blixt, a friend-of-a-friend whose personal writeup about gay marriage activism touched me. She said I could reprint it here. Thanks, Allison.
Law, Life and Love
by Allison Blixt
Some of you will think these comments are political, but to me they are just about my day-to-day life. Generally I can’t stand politics and I can’t stand politicians. Too many politicians are all about political rhetoric and promises they won’t keep. I always vote, as it is a right for which women worked very hard, but I often think of it as a choice between the lesser of two evils.
I hope that by writing this, maybe even one person will think of things in a different light.
I have been chatting with some people about the recent decision in Connecticut and Prop 8 in California. For me, the idea of Prop 8 is incredibly frightening, maddening and sad all at the same time. I just can NOT understand why people are fighting with such determination and paying so much money to support efforts to write discrimination into a constitution. Constitutions are generally for guaranteeing rights, not taking them away. How is giving equal rights to gay and lesbian people (that’s right, “PEOPLE” as in working, taxpaying, living, laughing, loving human beings that are sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews), in any way, affecting your rights? This I can not understand.
I try to be above it and know that whatever people think, I am OK with myself and my love and that this is all that matters. Unfortunately, the reality is that it is not all that matters. I had to leave the country because of people’s views of who I am and beliefs that I am not equal to them. Historically, people left England to go to the US for religious freedom and freedom from the crown. Look where we are today. It is almost worth laughing about, not quite, but almost.
I have had numerous conversations with people who don’t understand why “marriage” is the issue and why gay people can’t be happy with some other type of unions…domestic partnerships, civil unions, or something else. Domestic partnerships and civil unions are going in the right direction, BUT they are still saying it is socially and politically acceptable to treat gay and lesbian PEOPLE as something less than equal. Separate has never been equal.
Whether the unions are called marriage or something else, our federal government does not recognize any of them. This is a day-to-day issue for me, since I had to choose between my country and my love. My partner, soon to be recognized as my legal partner under UK law (we
can enter into a civil partnership here, giving us all the rights of a married couple for UK purposes only), is Italian. At least we were lucky that our circumstances allowed us to move to the UK to be together. She can live here without restriction, since she is a citizen of the EU. I was fortunate enough to have an employer that has an office in London and had opportunities for me to work here and continue my career. As much as I complain about the UK, it is one of TWO countries that we can legally reside in together at this juncture. For this, I am endlessly thankful to the UK. (We also could have lived together in Canada, if we had gone through a long visa process.)
The fact that I had to leave the US still saddens me everyday. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss Brooklyn. I miss being a 2 1/2 or less hour flight from almost everyone that I care about deeply. I miss the security of being regarded as a US citizen entitled to the same rights and protections as everyone else. I have been dealing with the reality of this for the past few years in trying to decide whether to move out of the country to be with my partner. I was often frustrated and sad and angry and 100,000 other emotions. It didn’t totally wallop me until I was already living over here and had gone back to NC for my sister’s wedding (funny that it was for a wedding, considering the situation). I moved over here in April and went back for the wedding in May. I was thoroughly moved and touched by the open-armed acceptance of my partner and me as a couple by friends, family, family friends and relatives. It has not been an easy road, but everyone was amazing. Friends of my mom that I see every once in awhile saw my partner in the elevator of the hotel, asked if they were correct in assuming she was who they thought, and gave her huge hugs. This was not in NY or CT, this was in Winston-Salem, NC. This is only one example, but everyone there was amazingly supportive. We had a wonderful time, and it made me really happy to feel so loved and accepted. Then we got on the plane to leave. That was the moment when it walloped me. I was flying away from all of these people that love me, respect me and accept me as me, because of the law; because of the religious right that is supposed to be separate from the law. I was flooded with emotion and left the ground in Charlotte as a bawling mess.
This is why I care about the politicization of my life and my love. I hope I have opened a few eyes to the real world impact of these measures on real people’s lives. I think one of the best ways to stop the spiral toward discrimination becoming the law is to talk about the impact of all of this with people that wouldn’t otherwise think about it: co-workers, friends of friends, random people that you meet, family friends, and others. When family friends and relatives realize what the stance of the federal government has meant to me, I hope it opens their eyes to what they would never have thought about otherwise. I hope that if anything like Prop 8 ends up on the ballot in NC, they will vote no. If they do, then that is one small way in which I have contributed.
Ruby & Ami, Seattle, August 2006.
Because along as gay marriage is outlawed, only outlaws will have gay marriages.
Some text by the ever-charming Ruby & Ami, from their website about their wedding (because they’re geeks, duh), Outlaw Wedding:
Ruby: I mean, have you ever been so, so excited about something that you couldn’t hardly keep it to yourself? Well, that’s what this is all about.
This is Ami typing, and I just have to say that I have found one of the most beautiful, smart, funny, challenging, compassionate, irresistible, warm and kind people on this earth. Her name is Ruby, and I’m going to marry her. Every day I have a little moment where I let myself be floored for a second by how much she brings to my life, how much I look forward to getting to see what happens next, and how impossibly lucky I must be to get this much out of life. Alright, alright, enough of the schmoopies- you single folk out there: quit ch’er groanin’, and get yourself to our wedding and get laid. We know the greatest people, OMG! There’s something for everyone in this event, my dearies. Let’s have a magical evening together!
Ruby here. Isn’t she great? That’s really how she talks to me — so sweet. We spend a lot of time grinning at each other. We argue about who’s luckier (and I know I’m right — it’s me).
PS – I hear they are having a baby! Congrats, Ruby & Ami!!