Friday, March 29, 2013
A Week Of Love
March 26th and 27th represent the culmination of lifetimes of being a silenced community. 5 years earlier we had learned to use our voice. I was a newly out gay man the fall of 2008 when President Obama was elected and Prop 8 in California passed. As momentous as having our first black president elected and his much more progressive outlook on gays, it was overshadowed by voters in California siding with misinformation brought to them with the monetary backing of a church, and church members, that I used to belong to. It was one of the first times since coming out where I felt the pains of what being a minority felt like. I spent most of that post-election November day in shock. Only months earlier I had come out, and despite the issues of an ugly divorce, I was feeling truly alive and happy. I was seeing the world in technicolor for the first time. I had learned to accept and love myself. There were no more days spent self-loathing, self-hating, and straining under "eternal damnation" to be something I wasn't.
Facebook was in its infancy, but it was a new, powerful tool for getting the word out. A rally was planned. The anger towards a church and culture that told me I was worthless for 27 years was re-kindled. I would not be silent any longer. It was the dawn of a new day in our equal rights struggle. Too many had felt the sting of rejection from a culture that preached love but practiced fear and judgement. After watching gay Californians taste the sweetness of equality we saw them forced backed to the bitter cup of second class. Enough was enough. As I drove up to Temple Square and LDS church headquarters I heard KSL report that the gathering of Prop 8 protesters was merely just a few hundred. I nervously approached this brave, new, publicly "out" me moment. I learned quickly that the church-owned "news" radio was far from accurate. It was estimated that there were 3-5000 of us who were silent no more. I had never felt anything like this before. A new chapter had begun in American history and I was lucky to be a part. I knew that losing on Prop 8 had sounded the alarm of a sleeping giant. The door of our closets had been ripped off and we would never go back in. The American people would have to see the faces of a previously hidden community. They would have to regurgitate their internal homophobia in front of real, tangible people and many would see the poison in their words. They would see the soul of people they once thought soul-less.
We gained momentum with every step. A few steps back but many more forward. Other states opened their arms and let equal love in. Don't Ask Don't Tell was tossed away as an archaic policy of a past misguided congress. Courts heard case after case and saw they misguided and hollow arguments of homophobia. They sided with us and kept siding with us. Finally these two days were ours. No more steps, we were at the top. Love again was at the Supreme Court. This time it was my love, our love on trial....finally.
I attended a vigil on the eve of our 1st day in court. It was great to see so many familiar and new faces gathered to celebrate love and put our energy into hope. Hope that an even brighter day finally lay ahead.
The facebook phenom began again. The Human Rights Campaign replaced their usual blue background and yellow equal sign with one of red on red to honor our fight for equal love under the law. Profile pictures began changing to this red equality sign. Soon my news feed was filled with red. It was simply beautiful. There was an energy felt spreading throughout the internet. Of course there were us familiars showing our support, but there were so many more new allies "coming out" in support of our love. By Tuesday night I was standing at the Utah State Capital with hundreds of other GLBTQ family members and our allies in red. We gathered to counter protest a group of people who believed they were celebrating marriage and honoring it by reaffirming that only one man and one woman were fit enough to love each other. Those for marriage equality surrounded this event and outnumbered the "traditional" folks 2-1 easily. It wasn't a night of fighting or anger, but a night of showing these people we have faces and families. We peacefully stood around them and heard some of the usual rhetoric, but I also noticed some speakers sounded more neutral than I would have expected. I can only hope that seeing our faces and humanity had some effect. It was a magical night and one filled with energy, and pride for the dignity and love within our gay community. Even the same LDS church-owned news system treated us with respect not normally afforded my community. Even here in Utah we have a chance for a brighter, more equal day sometime soon.
While it would be premature to say what decision these 9 judges will rule on these two cases, I do believe it is safe to say it matters little. If the rulings somehow are against us or so narrow they only help a few, it isn't over. We stand on the right side of history and every day more and more Americans stand with us. It would be a small setback, but only short lived. Momentum and love is on our side and there will be more and more states voting to recognize equal love.
Prop 8 was the darkest night before the brightest dawn. I am thrilled to be poised to watch this sunrise.
Posted by Bridger at 5:47 PM