Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Party Foul

I had a very busy day.
...Private dramaturgy meeting.
...New teaching residency at the amazing FOCUS program at Alliance High School. ...Director/producer meeting with Blue Monkey Theater for my play, Ablaze.
...Pick Up rehearsal for the New Works Fest, Blitz.

So I was out and about. And I can't count the number of times I was greeted with "Happy Obama" day. My response? "I know, I'm so thankful. But for the gay community, it was a terrible day for human rights."

I said this to every single person who brought up the election. Now, make no mistake. I am relieved with the Obama win. I feel blessed to witness this moment in history. I wept like a baby the second CNN announced him the official President-Elect. But for gay people, it was a terrible day for human rights. And I, along with many queer people around the country, am feeling a little left out of the party. Florida and Arizona banned gay marriage. Arkansas made gay adoption illegal. And let's not forget the disaster that is California's Proposition 8. 18,000 gay and lesbian couples are already legally married in Cali. Their rights cannot be stripped. What an absurd situation. Those 36,000 people are legally married, but no other same sex couples can marry now. How does this work with rights? It's a cluster fuck.

How did this happen? Lots of money. And not on the side of progress. This bigotry was largely funded by the dangerous cult commonly known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Yes, folks...the Mormons in Utah were really scared they might catch something...the gay disease was going to infect all the Californians then spread through Nevada and penetrate their magic underwear.

But there is another nasty statistic that has newscasters saying politically correct things like, "This is intriguing. No other group voted this way. How does one interpret this information?"
You see, African American voters in California voted 70% to ban gay marriage. No other ethnic group did so. All other groups split down the middle. African Americans carried the ban on gay marriage to victory.

Need I even articulate the irony?

Now, before anyone gets too uncomfortable - I do not vilify the African American community for this. But there is a big issue with gay rights within this community. Having dated more than one black man in my life, I can tell you - there may be nothing harder than being a black gay man. Documentaries have been devoted to it. Studies have been lectured. Suicide rates are much higher among black gay men. It is a really big problem. Why? Is it religion? There is a large evangelical tradition in black communities across this country. Does it have to do with ideas about masculinity? I know with the Hispanic community this is very true. My Hispanic partner and I talk about these issues quite often. It gets bizarre - in the Latino community you are only really considered gay if you are on the receptive end of sex. So long as you are merely receiving pleasure or "topping" - you are simply "getting off" and remain "manly." Or...does it come down to education? For over a hundred years, bigotry has prevented many African Americans from receiving equal education opportunities - so this perhaps leads to misunderstandings about homosexuality.

I don't know.

But I am left feeling less than 100% joyful today. I am thrilled to see President Obama lead this country. I am in awe, really. This may change the globe. But I must remain aware of the injustices that remain.

It was a very bad night for human rights. And we cannot forget that.


Jeremy said...

Thanks for the reminder we still have some ways to go-.

Patrick Wohlmut said...

Isn't amazing that as the promise of one civil rights movement is finally beginning to bud and, in some ways, bloom, that we possibly stand on the precipice of another one? This rash of anti-gay legislation is a backlash, make no mistake. We have to recognize that though gains have been made, the fight is not over. Those of us who stand for equal rights are going to have to organize again.

Andrea said...

Oh yes Matt. I am going to steal your answer from now on."But it was a terrible day for human rights".

In fact, Have to e-mail like 100 people.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. I have had a hard time explaining to people that election day was both one of the saddest and most joyful days of my life. There were lots of reasons to shed both types of tears, and I am furious that ignorant voters (and non-voters) took my otherwise perfect day away.

I do believe that the ridiculous current situation in California will be reversed, and soon. The backlash grows every day as people realize that Prop 8 was one big snow job. The Mormons are taking a pounding. My biggest concern is that if the CA Supreme Court will decide to overturn Prop 8, it might be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court... not good.