Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Outrage

I have a couple of thoughts on North Carolina.  Yesterday, those thoughts were mostly comprised of curse words and creative ways to call people dumb.  But this morning, after a fitful night of sleep, I realize I have a lot of thoughts.

I also realize that I haven't had enough thoughts in the past.  This fills me with shame.

Considering I grew up in West Texas, where I'd wager there are more churches than schools, I was somewhat shielded from this type of hatred in a broad sense.  I mean, my parents were open-minded.  My mother had lesbian friends.  We had gay relatives.  I was told my 4th grade teacher preferred men and didn't think a thing about it.  I grew up acting at the local community theater, which I think was sort of a haven for a lot of us in a land of line-dancing and church pancake suppers.  My favorite director was an openly gay man.  By the time I was in high school, easily a third of my friends were gay.  Not that this didn't cause problems for them.  It did. I had a friend who was shoved in a garbage can and pissed on by members of our championship football team.  I had other friends who were so scared to tell their good ole' boy dads about their sexual preference that we'd stay up all night talking about the best way to break the news.  Some did, some didn't.  But, they were all out to me and our friends.  Inside our little bubble of friendship, everything was fine.  It wasn't a big deal to be gay.  Some people have freckles, some people are blond, some people are born with natural talents like singing and some people are gay.  Whatever.  No biggie.

But, even if I loved my friends and accepted them, I didn't ask enough questions.  I didn't let myself be outraged enough.  I went through college much the same way.  Wonderful homosexual people entered my life.  I loved them but I didn't get mad for them unless someone directly insulted them.  If I questioned at all, it was a mild, I really wish they could be married!  Or, someday this will happen!  It should have been, WHY THE FUCK ISN'T THIS HAPPENING?!  THIS IS NOT OKAY!!!

On my wedding day, I stood up with Tim (whom I wouldn't have been able to marry back in the days of interracial marriage laws) and took my vows in front of all of my friends and family, gay and straight.  There were three gay couples there who had been together longer than Tim and I, who were in loving, committed relationships, who had had to bond themselves together through some weird thing you do with the post office so that if by chance one of them got sick, the other would have a shot of being with them in the hospital.  On my own wedding day, I didn't think about how horrible and ironic it is that I was able to marry whom I wanted just because I have a vagina and he has a penis.  I didn't think about that and I'm deeply ashamed.

I didn't get outraged until Prop 8.  Until I realized people were actively trying to take away or prevent a right I'd always assumed would happen sooner than later.  The fire was lit in me that day, going to the voting booths and having to vote "no" on something that shouldn't have even been on the ballots.  Then, sitting at my friends' house, celebrating the election of President Obama with gay and straight pals and slowly realizing that this hate bill that we'd thought had no chance in hell was going to pass.  Try sitting in a room with people you love and respect and watching someone shit all over their lives and rights and who they are in the form of a law.  A law!  In my own state!

Since then I haven't been as naive.  I've been to rallies and seen the faces of the people who vote yes on things like the Amendment One that passed yesterday in North Carolina.  I know they're scared and ignorant and confused.  They're filled with a hate they don't even understand.  But, I also know that even though yesterday felt like a giant step backwards, it isn't.  These people are a dying breed.  Eventually we will see all 50 states allowing anyone to marry anyone.  I know we will.  Because people aren't swallowing it anymore, like I did growing up.  Well, that's just the way it is.  People won't stand for that anymore.  I may not be surprised by the vote, but I am outraged.  I think we should all be.  And, I think we should all let it be known that we're outraged.

I should've been outraged as a child.  I'll never forgive myself for that.  But, I am now.  And, that's something.