When We Fight

I cringed yesterday as a watched my Facebook feed turn red with support for same-sex marriage. I literally squinted at my computer screen and withdrew. Cringed.

 

For many in the LGBTIQ community, the past four years have been stained with episodes of depression and despair. The passing of Proposition 8 was devastating to people all over the country. For many in the gay community, especially for those under the age of 40, the passing of Prop 8 was the first experience in being viscerally aware of what it feels like to be a marginalized population. Between 2008 and 2010 I lost three friends to suicide.

The passing of Prop 8 gave license to gay bashers all over America to be more outward with their views. Suddenly, they had popular support. Prop 8 gave credence to their discriminatory views, whatever form it took. When I worked on the campaign to defeat Prop 8 I had been spat on, cursed at and chased. Once Prop 8 passed, nothing changed. I was frightened. I was scared for my friends, for our lives and for our mental health.

Then something really strange happened to me. About a year ago, I stopped noticing that I’m a lesbian. There are days when I completely forget that I’m gay. It just stopped being an issue. I moved to Nevada County, California and, while I’m sure there are anti-gay people in the county somewhere, they must have better things to worry about than my gayness. The Tea Party and the NRA have a huge following in the county but no one seems to give a shit that I’m gay. No one has tried to run me off the road. No one has flinched when my partner and I hold hands. No one has started a sentence with “I don’t hate gay people but…” and we had Christmas dinner with Baptists. It’s just not important that I’m gay. And I like it that way.

I like it that no one is spitting in my face. I like it that no one calls me a fag or a dyke or tells me that I just “haven’t met the right man.” It has been years since someone has followed me to a Starbucks to intercept me before coffee and scream at me that I’m going to hell. It’s delightful.

Too bad it can’t last.

When gay issues are nationally covered and highly publicized, when people are talking about gay rights, when Facebook goes red for gays, suddenly, I have to “be gay” again. I have to be gay. I have to pump my gay gas, pick up my gay groceries, and cook my gay dinner. I have to put on my pretty gay face and be on my best gay behavior because, when we are in the news, each one of us is a damn spokesperson for the whole gay community. It’s not just Ellen anymore.

I enjoyed my time being a “next-door neighbor”, instead of “the lesbian next door.” I really liked being “the lady who gets a small coffee” instead of “the dyke who gets a small coffee.” It was nice to be “the woman who volunteers on Wednesdays” instead of “you know, the lesbian.”

We queers get to have a few days of national news coverage as Justice Sotomayor does her best not to roll her eyes while a bunch of confused and misled lawyers use moronic arguments against equal rights for gays. We get to listen to NPR report on the support for and against gay marriage. We get to read our friends’ Facebook feeds and see their quirky uncle’s belligerent comments about “faggotts”. We get to see pictures on the internet of protesters in front of the Supreme Court. We get to remember that we’re gay.

 

According to a Gallup poll, in 1996 , 27 percent of Americans said they supported same-sex marriage. Today, by contrast, more than half, 51 percent, of Americans report that they support same-sex marriage. We would have won if we had gone back to the ballot in California. We could have proved that we have the public support needed and we could have overturned the ban on same-sex marriage in California by popular demand. It’s too late for that now. And besides, we still would have had DOMA to contend with.

So here we are. The Supreme Court of the United States of America.

When it comes to the courts, public support for same-sex marriage shouldn’t matter. The Supreme Court of the United States isn’t there to support popularity contests. They are there to uphold our Constitution, the supreme law of our land. And it just so happens that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

There are a number of ways that this Big Gay Supreme Court Battle could go.  If the Supreme Court were to do its job, it would rule that all bans on same-sex marriage violate the Constitution and would implement a sweeping verdict that would protect gays from this violation—in all fifty states. The United States Constitution is the blanket under which all other laws in the United States are implemented. All citizens of the United States of America are protected by the US Constitution and it is the job of the Supreme Court to ensure that no laws violate that protection. With regard to institutionalized discrimination and constitutionally protected equal rights, United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry should be this generation’s Brown v Board of Education.

 

brown v board of education

 

But, if the Supreme Court does its job, or even if they half-ass it and apply their verdict only to California, if the Supreme Court overturns Proposition 8, California’s ban on same sex marriage in any way, shape, or form, us gays better be prepared to be gay every single day for a good long while. Even our friends who are not gay should be prepared to be gay for a while too. Because there will still be discrimination. There will still be hate.

When the verdict comes out, presumably in late June, everyone in the LGBTIQ community better be ready, really ready, to take on the responsibility of that verdict. If history is any indicator, we can be damn sure there will be a backlash.

And we will need to be ready for that. We will need to be ready for whatever ensues. We will need to talk to our children and our families. We will need to talk to our friends. We will need to talk to our communities. We will need to be prepared.

It’s just that…it’s just…you see the thing is…when we fight, we use our words. When they fight, they chain us to barbed wire fences.

And I’m not sure how to be ready for that.

 

 

 

 

 

Masterpiece

I never once peered down at the crayon in my hand and thought to myself, “I want to be an artist when I grow up.”  I have never wished I were an artist.  I had other things in mind.

postcard fancy

I’ve been in a rut lately. My work is bantam. Everything I write is trite. My relationships are trivial. I haven’t watered my plants in weeks. I’m a mess. Even my cats look at me like, “Wtf?”

I own several books that I haven’t read. Still, I visit my local library on a fairly regular basis. (If you haven’t been to a library lately, I highly recommend it.) On a recent visit, I found myself in the “new books” section and picked up a copy of Austin Kleon’s book Steal Like an Artist. I am easily wooed by a snappy title. The book contains advice on being creative. I read it in one sitting.

The last book I read in one sitting was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. Before that I think it was Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.

Obviously I was inspired by this one-sitting read because here I am. Writing.

I like Kleon’s point of advice #4: Use your hands. He argues for an “analog” work space, a space free of computers and electronic clutter. He shows a picture of his desks. He has one space that looks like a typical business office and another space that looks like a Kindergarten teacher’s desk. Using the wonders of a computer and the internet, I found a picture of Austin Kleon’s desk on his tumblr.

Austin Kleon. « from the desk of… If you have… – Austin Kleon

If you have any relationship with creativity, get a copy of Steal Like an Artist. Buy it. It won’t collect dust and go unread.

I spent time in my friend’s backyard this weekend doing “analog” stuff. We made post cards. We mostly spray-painted scrap paper and cut out stuff from magazines. It was the happiest I’ve been in weeks.

Art is really fun for me because I never wanted to be an artist. I don’t approach paint and construction paper and think to myself, “this is going to be a masterpiece.” If I’m getting out the art supplies it is for fun. I don’t worry about process, thesis or product. I don’t worry about consistency and flow. I don’t pour glitter on glue doodles and worry if it will come together or make sense at the end. I don’t worry what anyone thinks. I don’t worry if it will pay the bills.

postcard dual purpose

And every time I create a masterpiece.