I live in Houston. So, like millions of my neighbors, I’m glued to the Weather Channel, watching the reports as Hurricane Ike barrels toward us. Less than six days ago, I walked along the beach in Galveston. Now that beach is gone. It’s obvious that water is going to go over the seawall, which has protected the city since right after the devastating 1900 hurricane. The historic Strand district already has more than four feet of water and the storm hasn’t even hit yet.
As I watch all of this, I’m a bit anxious. Its hard to know what to expect. I’m also really tired. A lot of work goes into getting ready for a hurricane. I should take a nap because the worst is expected to hit in the middle of the night. But the wind is starting to really blow. It just got dark all of a sudden. My cats are getting edgy. There’s this sense of expectancy. Not especially condusive to napping!
So, as I was sitting here, I was trying to think about what I could write. How could I relate this particular experience of basic survival to being gay? And, believe me, survival is exactly what’s on everyone’s mind here on this side of the gulf coast — surviving until morning and then putting the pieces of our lives back together. But, what is it that’s different about all of this for me or for any other member of the Houston GLBT community? What are we doing or feeling that is different from all of the non-gay Houstonians?
Is my right to equal rights — to live, love, serve my country, adopt a child, visit my dying partner, manage my property and a thousand other things you take for granted — more important than your right to vote your party line?
It seems so to me. It all seems very personal to me. But maybe I’m being unfair. I would actually like to think so.
I’d like to say it’s your right to believe as you choose. That I believe in your right to vote your conscience and that I will honor our nation’s tradition of agreeing to disagree. That you can vote for someone who uses my rights as a rallying cry to the most fanatical element of his base to get elected. That there are more important things to you and simply accept your complicity in my continuing to be deemed “less than”.
That on November 5th we can still be friends.
I’d like to say that.
“…surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination.”
I know I didn’t dream hearing the democratic nominee for President of the United States say those words. I know that because I’ve never allowed myself that dream. But a little over thirty minutes into his acceptance speech, in front of 75,000 people packed into Denver’s Invesco Field and broadcast to the world, that is exactly what Barack Obama said.
Do we believe him? We squandered a lot of trust on Bill Clinton. We believed in his “place called hope” only to be turned aside at the door. We were sure that the American people would not let Karl Rove and his gang of thugs use us the same way Hitler used the Jews. Wrong again.
I want to believe in the young senator from my home state — but why do I keep having a vision of Charlie Brown running toward that football?
Am I truly that cynical?
Sometimes, I am. Hallmark, for instance, has seriously annoyed me with their new line of gay wedding cards. As have those in California who are discovering the financial benefits of recognizing same-sex marriage. I don’t want to be given equal rights (that “to be given” business is a whole other rant for another day) because it’s economically feasible — I want it because it’s the right thing to do.
And, I think, that’s what makes me a bit skittish about Barack Obama. You see, I don’t think he made that statement because it was politically expedient — although our clout is certainly being recognized and taken into account. In that place in my heart that hasn’t been completely closed by the disappointments of our history, I believe he means what he says — that he believes it is the right thing to do.
I don’t mind telling you, that scares me. But the alternative is so much worse.
Okay, Senator, you’ve got the ball. Let’s see how well you hold on to it.