Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"We're winning!"

The Prop 8 decision came down yesterday and the outcome was just what I expected. I had a lot of outraged friends, but for once, I was pretty calm about it. I guess most of my anger occurred right after it passed. Prop 8's passage was my introduction to gay discrimination. Living in Seattle, it just hadn't ever been an issue. I mean, like never, not once. So at the age of 36, I got what felt like the biggest punch in the gut ever. Years and years of living blissfully oblivious to the very real day to day struggles that other folks faced constantly. Retrospectively, I think I was most mad for the people without a voice like the suicidal gay teens crying in their rooms at night. I wanted to wrap them all up and say, "Hold on -- your life is going to be really amazing someday -- I promise you." I still don't understand how anyone can hate a child.
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It's a really weird feeling to suddenly realize that the majority of folks in a progressive state (in this case, California), don't feel that your loving relationship isn't valid. The weird thing about bigotry is its insidious method of eroding trust. My anger was so extreme and my trust level so low that anyone who self-identified as religious (Mormon, Christian, Catholic, Muslim, pretty much any religion) became an "enemy". I didn't like that feeling at all. Because that put a fair amount of folks that I love and cherish into places where they didn't belong. Since then, polls and states like Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa and Maine have buoyed my faith in my fellow human. I've learned that a lot of folks who love God also believe in marriage equality. Straight friends and allies have poured out their support, marched in rallies, held signs at protests and continued to fight for me when I just didn't have the energy to do it anymore.
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I thought about it a lot. I blogged about it a lot (here, here, here, and here). And it's the closest I've come to crying in years. At the end of the day, it just didn't serve me well and I knew I had to get rid of that hate. Here's part of my blog post from winter solstice last year. It signaled an end to my anger.
Surprising to many of my Seattle kin, I was a real big church-goer during high school. In fact, I got baptised at age 18. Like a lot of gay people, the older I got, the more it became apparent I just didn't fit in with traditional church.. There's still a lot to love about Christianity (in an abstract form for me personally). Love your neighbor. That's one I don't do enough. I hope in 2009, I'll do a better job of not letting my politics divide me from those that might believe differently. But I'll be honest, it's been especially hard this year. Because I live in a city with the 2nd most population of gays and because I live in a city where the vast majority are not church-going, being gay has simply never ever not even once been an issue in the 12 years I've been here. Until this year. And I don't like that how that feels. It's been baffling and surprising and has put me at odds with some folks I really love and care about. I want to put it bed before 2009 rolls around. I know that time is on my side. Statistics show that each successive generation will be as shocked as I am that being gay was ever an issue.

That's why it came as a relief for me personally that I wasn't angry about yesterday's Prop 8 decision. It meant that I had let it go and could go back to doing what I'm best at - building bridges, not burning them.
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I'm certainly not the only one thinking and talking about this. After reading Sharon Arnold's post yesterday, I joked that I had been going to write the same post and now didn't need to. She encouraged me to write it anyway to add one more voice to the discussion. Fellow blog-friend Susanna Bluhm, in all her prescient glory, wrote an amazing blog post last week that makes a compelling read. It's sparked a beautiful, thoughtful discussion with all parties being gracious, civil and vulnerable.

4 comments:

sharon said...

Your voice is such a positive influence in so many different communities - I particularly like the part about sphere of influence and getting to know more people being the answer. In your personal example, I can see it working.

Joey Veltkamp said...

Aw, thanks Sharon. And double-ditto to you!!

Amy said...

I love you!

Susanna said...

Thank you for writing this Joey! "prescient glory"-- I don't know about that. :P
You're a treasure in this community.

xo susanna