My spirit plummets as I type the obligatory New Years post. Despite decades of economic and social progress – and in spite of millions more voting for Hillary – a narcissistic hate filled bastard becomes president on January 20, 2017. Even proof Russia interfered with the election didn’t deter this travesty. (Though I laugh; conservative family and friends have long accused me of being a traitor. Yet, most surrendered our country without firing a shot.)
Spending 36 years in and around politics, and even longer studying history, gives me nightmares. Despite “assurances” I can see the Muslim Registry Implemented, the deportations of Immigrant Student Dreamers, the Destruction of Medicare, and Rising Hate Incidents. Yes, many of us will resist but we won’t stop everything. Hatred feeds the mob, which thrives on emotion and fear.
Still, as Thomas Paine eloquently wrote, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” Or as we say in my family, “it’s put up or shut up time.” This means signing up for the Muslim registry, possibly hiding the Dream Students (think the Underground Railroad), using Grassroots to Lobby Congress, and funding nonprofits big and small to replace lost government services. See up top for organizations where you can take action.
As a single, childless woman I have more freedom than most. I don’t have to worry about who will raise my kids if I get arrested. I am (currently) a citizen. I have access to social media so I can share better formed ideas for resisting (like Rev. William Barber and the Moral Mondays’ Fusion Movement, Nuts & Bolts A Renewed Commitment to Crowdsouring, and one from the heart (and the gut)).
But everyone can smile at the woman in a hijab, shut down racist conversations among friends or coworkers, or resist this administration’s provocations to fear the “other.”
I leave with Bluto’s Speech to Fight
I could hardly allow a glorious day to pass in total silence. DOMA rocked and Same-Gender Marriage rendered legal (again) California. It’s a state of affairs only dreamed of just a decade or two ago. I will let others speak to the intricate legal issues or pour their hearts’ happiness gleefully across the blogosphere. Tonight clearly belongs to LGBT families and those who labored so long for them. I only wish my friends lost to AIDS, substance abuse, and assorted illnesses who also labored and created families were still here.
Still I cannot help but feel oddly proud it occurred during my 50th year. My favorite college professor, Stanley Balis, always taught societies cannot appreciate a major epoch until 50 years passed. It was why books on WWII exploded in the 1990s as survivors finally opened up. Its a phenomena repeated throughout historiography. Being part of a generation who moved from ” a love that dared not speak its name” to one “that will simply not shut up” was both glorious and painful. In other words an epoch (whether I view my politically active stages or my downtime on the proverbial sidelines).
Just the week I came home choking back tears and smiles after a bus ride home on Sunset neighborhood bus. As I told my brother, “we (meaning my LGBT community) already won.” Why? I watched four high school age boys giggle and flame all over the bus about their planned dates and summer jobs. Yet no one moved to censure or mock them. Having grown up in the Sunset my brother and I knew this would have been a near death sentence in the 1970s and 1980s. Yes, our neighbors included Sunset punks who carried their hatred on baseball bats they wielded in the Castro.
Nor was it confined to Irish Catholic communities in San Francisco. I can recall my very first day of (yes) Catholic High School in Southern California. In not so whispered tones folks talked of a boy stomped in the showers that morning for allegedly having an erection. I still can see the principal (actually a decent priest and very straight) running around handling it. Few expressed sympathy and all stated the obvious “he will have to leave now” [and he did]. It’s a memory which lingered in my consciousness and helped bury my nascent sexual orientation further into my soul’s recesses. I can’t help but wonder if other 14-year-old Catholic boys and girls suffered similar reactions when our Archbishop pompously characterized today as a great tragedy. Nah; this is now, not 1977 – the Church has zero credibility.
But time to banish those bad memories for tonight. It’s a joyous celebration belonging to all of us gay or straight.
Let me extend my love and heartfelt thanks to my brothers, parents, ex-in-laws, aunts, uncles, and cousins who cast aside generations of institutionalized bigotry to embrace me. Not only did it allow me to live my life like any other boring, middle class product of parochial institutions, it comforted many of my friends and acquaintances. Kudos to my countless LGBT fellow travelers who also reached out to their families (regardless of the results; y’all tried). Thanks to my supportive coworkers and political colleagues who endured the “strident years.” A deeper thanks to everyone for not falling victim to the AIDS hysteria and locking us all up.
Those boys wouldn’t have traveled safely and the Court would not have made its ruling without each and everyone of you. Hug yourself and everyone near you in gratitude. It’s a blossoming of all the love held fast through the losses.