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New Times / Commentary
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 27, Issue 49
A state of hopeThis is a good start, California
By MAEVA CONSIDINE
On June 15, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West blessed the world with their spawnage, and on June 26 the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and repealed California’s Proposition 8, making me, a card-carrying gay, an almost fully fledged citizen of the United States of America. My mother claims I’m not actually a citizen because extraterrestrials dumped me here at birth, but I’m pretty sure she just says that so she doesn’t have to own up to the ’80s perm she’s rocking in my birth photos.
But back to what matters: the Kardashian spawn. Wait, no … gay marriage.
Just recently I was watching an episode of the hit ABC Family series Glee (before you pass judgment, it was 2 a.m. and the Home Shopping Network has issued a restraining order against me), and I was struck wordless by a particularly hot and heavy make-out session between two of the show’s male leads. Before the fat tear of gay solidarity and pride I had shed could even reach the Cheetos stains around my lips, I was hit with a wave of teenaged nostalgia.
Maybe all of this transparent gayness is getting glib for the Glee generation, but I am still grappling with the reality that I can and do live life as an openly gay woman. I guess maybe that’s why I find the SCOTUS decisions incredibly empowering—but not exactly the point behind the fight for equality. Don’t get me wrong: I’m no wet blanket here, and on June 26 I certainly wept into my celebratory organic kale salad as much as the next lesbian did, but I think bigger and more important things are afoot for my fellow LGBT brethren and myself.
Watching two fashion-literate dudes make out on my television screen at 2 a.m. made me realize that in all my years spent in the public educational system, I would have never even dreamed of living the life of a Glee kid.
Why? Because when I graduated from Arroyo Grande High School a mere six years ago, the favorite chant from opposing schools’ football teams was still, “You can’t spell fag without A.G.” I’m sure those neighboring schools produced a lot of Mensa Society contenders, but it was a real school spirit killer for the gay kids.
So I tucked my sexuality away like a webbed toe, until college. But even my nearly ironclad shield of heterosexuality wasn’t immune to bits and pieces of my true identity surfacing at inopportune times.
I could typically brush off homophobic remarks because I was so totally straight—don’t you see all of these Heath Ledger and Lance Bass pictures in my locker? What kind of gay woman likes these pictures? Right, guys? Right?
I only survived high school thanks to another genetic anomaly: a self-deprecating sense of humor. Most of my less-than-tolerant classmates found that attempts to break me down were about as useful as trying to milk a cat. But you can only keep up a Tina Fey-like resistance to criticism for so long, and I know many of my gay classmates suffered worse fates.
And that’s why the axing of DOMA and the death of Proposition 8 and the impending (and fabulous) gay divorce court shows are all great victories, but we still have so many more battles to win before we can declare the war won. Now I know I’ve started to sound like the big, gay, angry wet blanket I promised I wasn’t, but bear with me.
We need to, in the words of Helen Lovejoy of the Simpsons, “Think of the children!” It’s wonderful and soul-affirming for young gay and trans* (the preferred spelling) kids to see their role models be able to marry in 12 states, but there are still so many young, brilliant, funny, sweet, and sad gay kids sitting on the sidelines just waiting for the fruits of equality to roll down the hill toward their homes and high school classrooms. “Fruits” of equality? Get it together, Considine.
And the heartbreaking truth is that many of these kids can’t or won’t make it to adulthood to enjoy these victories, if we don’t give them the clear and unwavering message that they, too, are valuable, today. I could be wrong, but I think there is a pretty simple solution to this problem.
Maybe I’m proposing something radical here, but I have to say it. To every Evangelical parent, teacher, aunt, uncle, grocery store clerk, or Subway sandwich artist: If your religion tells you to disown or otherwise abuse your child because your god gets the skeevies thinking about gay sex, lose your god’s number.
Why? Because I’m pretty sure that if there really is a god (although the fact that there is a bird that keeps poop-bombing my car at work right after I wash it makes me think there probably isn’t), he’d rather you skip past a few pages in the Old Testament than make your child feel so hopeless about his sexuality that he jumps off of the George Washington Bridge.
Every person deserves a full life of equality and happiness. It’s not something that gets mailed to you on your 25th birthday. It’s not a wedding certificate or a jointly filed federal tax return. It shouldn’t be something achieved only after you survive the terror and oppression of your high school, or your church, or your parents, or your government.
I believe Harvey Milk summed up what equality is best when he said, “I know you can’t live on hope alone; but without hope, life is not worth living. So you, and you, and you: you got to give them hope; you got to give them hope.”
So thanks for the hope, California. I know there is plenty more where that came from.
Maeva Considine is calendar editor at New Times. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org