Adventures of a Midwest Transplant

I Can’t Do Nothing Anymore

Recently, my sense of justice has taken a hit. I’m speaking specifically of LGBT rights. I really cannot explain why, but recently their issues have taken precedence over other rights issues in my mind.

I think I got close to the tipping point when I came across an article published on my birthday last year. Michael J. Klarman from Harvard Law School wrote an Op-Ed article entitled Gay Rights May Get It’s Brown v. Board of Education.

I’ve noticed that black people sometimes have a knee-jerk reaction to LGBT civil rights struggles being compared to those of black Americans. The only argument that resonates with me is that under most circumstances, you can’t look at someone and tell they are not heterosexual, but you can’t hide blackness.

There are many fallacies to that argument. Black people don’t always look black. Gay people don’t always blend in. And someone seeking to discriminate usually doesn’t have to search too hard to make it happen.

That being said, the comparison to Brown v. Board of Ed really made sense to me. It was a landmark decision that altered the future of black people in this country. All Michael Klarman was saying is the gay community was on the cusp of getting their version of a Supreme Court ruling of that magnitude. They were on their way to getting a ruling that would alter the future of LGBT people in this country.

At the bottom of the article, it mentions that he wrote a book called From the Closet to the Altar. At the time, I barely noticed that line and moved on with my life and my birthday celebration.

Then around Christmas, there was another article in the New York Times called Utah Ruling Means No Respite for the Supreme Court on Same-Sex Marriage. They have a quote from Michael Klarman in there. It’s only one sentence, but it stuck with me for some reason and before I even finished reading the article, I went back to his line and read it again.

Then I went to Amazon and bought the Kindle version of his book. I’ve always enjoyed non-fiction as long as it was on a topic I actually cared about, and so I really enjoyed reading this book. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but some part of the book brought tears to my eyes. Some of the people he talks about went through so much and fought so hard, but the fight isn’t over yet.

Also, he mentioned Nate Silver. Nate Silver is basically a rock star in my mind. He’s the most amazing statistician. He was over at the New York Times doing politics, but now he’s at ESPN with his first love, sports. Nate Silver has a model he created that predicts exactly when the states will cross over to 50+% approval of gay marriage. Anybody wanna guess who’s last?

After reading this book, along with the time I spend at the soup kitchen where I volunteer, I have gone from feeling supportive of gay marriage and LGBT rights to feeling even stronger. I want to do something about it. I want to have an active role in improving the lives of people who cannot marry the person they love today. My 2 year anniversary is in 2 days, and there are people who currently live in places where they can’t have that yet.

For years now I’ve donated money to the Human Rights Campaign. I signed up with one of those street volunteers they have out asking people for credit card information and a monthly donation.

Usually I give those people the side eye and keep it stepping, but even though I hadn’t even heard of this organization, their message resonated with me, so I signed up. That was almost five years ago, but it’s not enough anymore

This weekend, HRC is having their annual gala at the Waldorf Astoria. But those tickets are around $500, so that isn’t the way I’ll help either.

I’m going to keep looking for a way to get actively involved with the cause. Something other than buying a t-shirt with a rainbow on it or dancing in the streets during a pride parade. I haven’t done either of those things yet, but I think I will this year. As long as it’s along with something more substantial.

When I think of people defending “traditional marriage,” my feelings are hurt. How could a grown man being in love with another grown man and wanting to make it official for their family and their future be bad?

Heterosexuals aren’t doing a great job with marriage. The divorce rate is awful and when some people are on their third marriage, or getting an annulment because they made a decision to marry after 24 hours, the argument of a rock-solid institution being taken apart by gay marriage doesn’t fly.

Then there are the arguments that the bible is very clear about sodomy being wrong. The bible is very clear about a lot of things, but our interpretation of it over time changes.

For instance, when you sin against your home, do you go to the priest, slit the throat of a young goat, flick the blood of that goat on an altar then rub in on the earlobe of that priest? The bible is very specific about that too.

My point is that quoting one part of the bible as immutable when you eat shellfish, openly disrespect your president, and don’t celebrate three chosen festivals each year is a bit hypocritical.

It’s been hard for me as a Baptist to reconcile how I feel with the teachings of my religion. The church I attend has yet to mention the topic, like at all. The husband loves that church too. I don’t know what I’m going to do about that, but for now, I’m keeping my ears open for any sign of intolerance.

Because I’m a black woman, I know making discrimination go away is frankly impossible. But just because something is hard isn’t a good enough reason not to try.

When I was younger, if I saw an interracial couple, specifically a black man with a white woman, it upset me. I was a teenager at the time, so what the hell life experience did I have to feel so strongly about it? None, that’s what. I’ve dated guys of every race, so I was being such a damn hypocrite.

What changed it for me was moving to an area where there was more interracial couples than other types of couples. After making friends in the checkout line with the hundredth cute biracial kid, I got over myself and my gut reaction to that type of couple. Looking back on it, I feel like such as asshole.

My family raised me to see color, and I’m glad I was. I just wish I wasn’t raised to judge color. Who am I to have an opinion on how someone else lives their life? I keep coming back to that question because that’s the crux of my issue. Who are you to judge? None of us are in a position to judge someone else’s life. If you are living your life and you’re not hurting someone else or making their life worse, live on.

I am at the point where I feel that so strongly, I want to actively stop other people from infringing on other’s happiness.

I was walking down the street to work today and I saw a couple with their children. It was a black man, a white man, and two small children of indeterminate race. I two men were holding hands and making flirty eyes at each other. I noticed a lot about this couple, even down the color coordination of the family’s outerwear.

But you know what I noticed most? Their comfort. I don’t know if they’re married or not. And I don’t care. What I care about is that they are as free to live life openly as the husband and I are. They aren’t hurting anyone. In fact, looking at those two children, I’d say they are helping a lot of people. Those kids were healthy, happy, and full of life.

Any kid would be lucky to belong to that family.

Y’all just give me a few weeks. I’ll be back with a real plan to help make a difference for families like that one. I’m sure there’s some version of this family just waiting for the opportunity to thrive. Maybe they’re in Utah. Maybe they’re somewhere else. This Op-Ed Column I read in the New York Times today by Frank Bruni titled Love, Death, and Sochi reminded me that this isn’t just a domestic problem.

Like so many other stories, I was left feeling frustrated with tears in my eyes. I have to remind myself that as awful as I feel today, there are people who have been in this fight for decades. I have to have strength if I’m going to sustain to help progress move forward.

And strength is something I have no shortage of. I have strength. I have resolve. I have passion. Now, I just need a work assignment.

Google will help me figure it out.

I also have loyalty and confidence.

Pretty soon, I’ll also have a plan.

2 responses

  1. Gay rights is definitely something that I hold close to my heart as well and it’s one thing that will really get my heated. I’m very proud of how many strides the community has made in just the last few years but I know it’s going to still be a very long time before things are even close to fair. Please keep us updated on your search as I’d be interested in ways to help.

    February 9, 2014 at 20:59

  2. Pingback: I’ve Found A Way To Do Something | A Chicago-Style Girl in NYC

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