I want to take a moment to thank the fine people at No on Prop 8 for all their hard work and energy. I'd also like to thank Joe of Joe.My.God. for helping me stay current on so many issues, and I'd especially like to think Prince Gomolvilas of Bamboo Nation for inspiring me to write this. Vote no on Prop 8! I've remained quiet on the subject of politics on this website, but certain events and political procedures are unfolding that I cannot stand by and watch without putting forth my opinion on the matter. Being in LA, I've been watching the heat of the battle over whether or not gay people have the right to marry the person of their choice. I watched the historic Supreme Court decision that determined that barring gay people the right to marry is unconstitutional. And then I watched as social conservatives immediately petitioned to organize a vote so that people, 90% of whom are not gay themselves, can decide whether or not I should be allowed to marry a man. More than that, they went so far as to request an amendment to the Constitution, so that if it should pass, I would not legally be able to say "This is unconstitutional."
Last Friday, I had a rather disturbing conversation with my landlord's wife, who I met last December and has known since that day that I am a gay man. I mentioned, as we were chatting, that I had been helping out with the No on Prop 8 campaign at school, and she looked at me, unfazed, and said, "I don't think it's discrimination, because that isn't the same thing as marriage. Give it some other name, just not marriage." What struck me most was that she truly believes this, and more than that, I know her well enough to know that her feelings are not borne of hate, fear, or even because that's what she's been told to believe. She's a very smart woman who, like many people, cannot bring herself to believe that two people of the same sex can fall in love.
There are those out there who consider homosexuality to be a matter of choice. Many believe that it can, with the proper assistance, be changed. But if one "succeeds" with this so-called therapy, one is not simply a regular heterosexual, but rather an ex-gay. As if that person hadn't already experienced enough trauma in seeking to change his or her orientation, this valiant display of love is only met with partial approval. The label ex-gay is certainly a clear reminder of who that person once was, and an even clearer message that that person will never, under any circumstances, be truly embraced in love.
In the not-so-distant past, I was a gay man who was far and away unwilling to accept myself as such. I knew the truth about myself, and I always have. What I originally felt was an inner battle was actually, I realize now, a battle against that which makes me who I am and how that individual was someone those close to me did not want to accept. The ideas I wrestled with were not some inherent aspects in being gay, but rather were ideas that my own family conditioned me to believe. I did not fully realize this until earlier this year, when an argument with one of my younger brothers resulted in my expressing the following in an email:
Where am I coming from? I'm coming from more than 'degraded.' I'm coming from more than being offended by a few quips to bolster some heterosexual egos. I'm coming from more than being told that I need to be more manly or that I'm not manly enough or that I have some mannerisms that could be deemed "wimpy." I'm coming from a lifetime of trying to find my own voice, of trying to make my way in a world that's not always kind, of trying to be who I am when, at every turn, those closest to me are telling me that who I am and what I am is wrong. I'm coming from a lifetime of always listening, and never asking in return that I be heard. I'm coming from a lifetime of always doing my part to please others, and never expecting that others check to see if I'm happy. I'm coming from a lifetime of fighting my own mind, trying to convince myself that others were right and that, somehow, I was wrong. I live in a country where I'm a second-class citizen, having always to think twice that if I hold the hand of someone I love in public, there could be dangerous consequences. (And yet I'm blessed to live in this country, because many other countries throughout the world imprison and/or execute homosexual members of their population.) I come from a family who, even though it wasn't fully conscious, considered people like me to be second-rate human beings who were expected to emulate the lives and behaviors of straight people in public and never make known what they do in the privacy of their own homes or lives, even if it was something as beautiful as loving another human being.
On this election day, think of your fellow citizens, the people you share this land with and call your neighbor. The people with whom you stand behind in line at the grocery store and discuss the weather. The people who, like you, have jobs and work to contribute to a society we all share a responsibility in shaping and maintaining. When you think of protecting children, think of all the children who will one day realize themselves that they are different in some way. Think of the children whose parents are verbally and physically abusive, or the children whose parents neglect them and tell them they were never intended to be born. Think of how much difference can be made by letting love shine for a change. Think of what marvelous things we could achieve if we could just embrace our differences and realize that, as human beings, we must work together to make the world a better place. On this election day, please, just think.