Arizona voted to ban gay marriage. Florida voted to ban gay marriage. California (most likely) voted to ban gay marriage. Arkansas voted to ban gay couples from adopting children.
I can’t say Arizona and Arkansas surprised me, but California voting yes on 8, for me, is the kind of kick in the gut I got used to in the last couple of elections when, instead of celebrating giddily with massive throngs of people, I was sitting there with my jaw in my beer, going, “How? How the fuck did this happen?” (2004: “How the fuck did this happen again?”)
Like Liss and Portly Dyke, I know how it happened, of course. I just still can’t fucking believe it. I saw the blogs starting to fret about Prop 8 last night, but I wasn’t listening to any analysis, and only about 35% of precincts were reporting when I went to bed, so I went to sleep thinking it could turn around. I listened to President-elect Obama say:
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer…
It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
and I thought it could turn around. He said gay! The future president included gay people! Has that ever happened before? Yes, we can, motherfuckers!
But it didn’t turn around. The out-of-state fundamentalist assholes who dumped money into making sure Californians’ brief taste of equality would be no more than that got their way. Well done, assholes.
Portly Dyke, who knows a lot more than me about nearly everything, but especially about waiting for change when it comes to gay rights, offers some small consolation:
When I was 17, the thought of being accepted as a queer in my family, or in society at large — the idea of being “out” at a job — any job (except maybe a gay-bar) — simply did not exist.
At the time, I was pissed about this at some level — but it was a vague, subconscious kind of anger — and I would never have expected it to be addressed in the media or a topic of conversation outside of the secretive community that I inhabited as a queer.
Now, at 52, I’m pissed again — but this time, my anger is out in the open.
That may be bitter cause for Hope — but it is, for me, Hope, nonetheless.
Bitter hope is better than no hope, I guess. And generally speaking, the sea change that started last night is cause for a lot of hope, bitter and otherwise. But let’s not forget that the hope here relies on keeping our anger out in the open. As Shark-fu put it, “Elections give us tools that we call politicians. It is our job to use the hell out of them…to hold them accountable and to work with them to bring about change.”
It’s incredibly hopeful to finally be thinking of my new president as a tool in the useful sense, not the slang one. But one big step forward for equality is just that. There’s still a long fucking way to go.