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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Once, Twice, Three Times A Faggot

A friend of mine sent this to me; his friend wrote it. It eloquently sums up how I, and many others, feel today:

I never went to the prom. I never went to the homecoming dance.
I never went to any school dances for the most part.
Save for one dance in high school in the cafeteria that was organized by the teachers, I never went to any. Honestly, even though I was invited, I never felt welcome.

That dance in the cafeteria, I thought it would be fun. It was horrible. While I was invited and while I went and while I even danced, briefly, I was uncomfortable. And I was laughed at. For dancing. For thinking it was okay to be there.

And while there were those who tried to make me feel comfortable and wanted me there and stood up for me when I was picked on, the reality was that I still felt I shouldn't be there.

Election Day 2008 feels like that dance to me.

Everyone is partying. Everyone is celebrating. I've been invited, welcomed, and supported. And yet, I feel like I've been kicked to the sidelines, watching everyone party, while being separated.

While I was campaigning during election day, I was called a 'faggot.' Not once, not twice, but three times. By differing guys in different trucks as they drove down the road past me in San Francisco. In San Francisco.

At the time, it just sort of seemed par of the course for the day. But now, upon reflection, I can't help but feel like no matter how much we advance our rights in general and no matter how much strength we think we might have in a city or a community, we are still easy targets. With the numerous fellow Americans voting to deny my equality here in California and around the country in other state propositions this year and over the last many decades, it just seems that no matter where we go or how far we climb, they're still laughing at us for even considering dancing at the party.

So here we are with the biggest celebration in decades. An historic win for the presidency and our friends throughout the country. And everyone is partying. Save me.

Oh, yes, I'm heartened that I've been invited and all my friends are telling me I'm welcome and supported. And I'm heartened that so many supporters were out there working for my right to be there. And I'm happy that everyone has their happiness and are enjoying dancing. But I feel like I'm sitting on one of the chairs by the wall of the high school gymnasium while the rest of my fellow students enjoy the party.

And so even though I'm here, I just can't dance today.

5 comments:

Nan Hawthorne said...

An eloquent observation on what is a bittersweet triumph for many of us. I listen happily to the young African Americans tell reporters, "I always heard I could be anything I wanted to be. Now I believe it's possible." But my smile is a little wry. In my daily life, in spite of my many accomplishments, I know that I can be hardly anything I want, even a burger flipper or a salesclerk, because my eyes don't work very well. Even though I have created two different successful careers for myself, I am still considered impaired. I will never forget the woman who said, after I did part of a workshop for the local chapter of my professional association, "Oh, it's so nice they let you train."

I can hide in my office now, using my access software, and no one even needs to know the author is lehally blind. But is that a life for an overachiever like me? We are just getting our first African American president. It is overlooked that we already have had a disabled president, Franklin Roosevelt. But when I pointed this out to a reference librarian she answered, "Yes, but he had help." Help to pass mostly, as I suspect he was president all by himself.

What the poem points to is how so many of us for so many distinct reasons are not allowed to let our true selves shine through. We are obscured by the labels stuck all over us, the largest label reading "THEM".

Actually, more than the eyesight, when it comes to it, another side of me screams to come out, that part of a woman who doesn't play girl games. No wonder I love historical fiction where I can be anything I want.. even a boy.

Sarah Bower said...

I read your post and Nan's comment with great interest, Christopher. As an English person looking in, so to speak, the news seems all good. Democrats are always better for foreign policy. And I was pleased to note that Obama's speech in Chicago was careful to include all 'minorities' not just people of colour. Telling, though, and very sad, that a gay man and a differently abled woman should nevertheless feel left out.

I wonder how soon we shall stop 'seeing' Obama's colour and whether that will set any kind of precedent for the way we perceive other social groups whose orientations differ from our own? Watch this space, eh?

My mixed race daughter in law, incidentally, is over the moon and busy telling her son (one quarter Jamaican) he can be anything he wants to be. At the moment, being one year old and very pretty, he's a good tyrant!

Justin Aucoin said...

My deepest regards, C.W. Although I'm not "directly" impacted by the proposition (though I think when rights are taken from one group, we all are impacted by it), I was disappointed and angered to see such a hateful proposition passed.

I was glad when Massachusetts legalized gay marriage and then to see California follow suit. But now, to see California regress is unfortunate, to say the least. Not only is it an ignorant and hateful prop', but it's also in violation of the 14th Amendment. It is sad to see America go back on it's own ideology. And to be slightly lighthearted for a moment, if only Zorro could fight this injustice... because that's exactly what it is.

And I know my words might do little to comfort, but I feel for you. I can only hope Americans will realize the err of their ways, and again believe that all men and women are created equal, and deserve ALL the same rights.

Mirella Patzer said...

From up here in Canada, I watched the elections that night literally electrified. The ban on gay marriages came as a complete shock to me. Here in Canada we legalized gay marriages approximately 1 year ago. So it surprised me that society in California voted against it - especially since Americans made a giant leap forward by electing Obama.

My heart goes out to everyone affected.

C.W. Gortner said...

You're all great! Thanks for the kind words and support. Already groups here in CA are rallying the banner, so we'll just have to keep up the good fight. It will happen; it must. Strange times to be livng in, indeed; though I must reiterate that having Obama as president has restored my faith in this country and our ability to enact change. And if worse comes to worst, we'll call in Zorro :)