I’ve been pretty vocal about my support for gay rights, particularly gay marriage. The other night someone asked me why I care so much about an issue that doesn’t directly affect me. Why get worked up about something that isn’t a personal concern? After all, I could get married today. I could grab my man, get a blood test, head to David’s Bridal, fly to Vegas and be done with the whole process within 24 hours.
This post is for you…
My first babysitter (and our roommate when Dad left my Mom and me) was a lesbian. She comforted me when the big kids picked on me. She put bandaids on my knees. She read me “Winnie The Pooh” and made sure I washed my hands before lunch.
When I turned 10, I didn’t need babysitters anymore, because I had the local theatre scene. The theatre directors were often gay men. They coached my singing and acting skills. They dressed me in beautiful satin costumes, and made this chubby, funny looking little kid feel special. They boosted my self-confidence, offering encouragement and love.
When I was in high school, it wasn’t the straight guys who told me I was cool, fun or cute. The straight guys thought I was weird and way too outspoken. I never got asked out. It was the gay guys who told me I was pretty. It was the gay guys who took me dancing in downtown Seattle on prom night. Laughing and dancing to Erasure, we were teenage outcasts together.
When AIDS continued to ravage the gay community and I realized that people were dying alone in hospitals while their partners were denied visitation rights; that families who had called their sons “faggots” and disowned them were now given precedence over these partners, it infuriated me. So at 17 I’d take the bus into downtown and march with ACT UP. I’ve always felt more like a gay man than a straight woman, so I chanted “We’re Here, We’re Queer! Get Used To It!” with conviction.
When I was in college, it was a gay man who created a rich fantasy life with me when I was flat broke. We’d sit on the roof and point out which beautiful London homes belonged to us. We’d spin stories of wealth and privilege and pretend to believe them.
When I lived in Atlanta, working at CNN for a miserable $20,000 bucks a year, it was a gay man who kept me sane. He made us mimosas on Sundays, he always remembered funny pop cultural references from childhood, and made me realize that life could still be fun.
Gay friends have been my allies, my caretakers, my support system. I could never, ever turn my back on the gay community: I feel that I am part of it.
So when legislation is passed that demeans gay citizens, that denies basic civil rights, I find it profoundly offensive.
Gay rights affect everyone. Treating our citizens equally is a vital part of our national identity.
And yes, it’s personal.
It’s really fucking personal.