i’ll keep my political opinions brief because i know you’d all much rather read about my budding office romances (not. happening. even. a little. bit.) or about how much i love football or that time when i did that thing and it taught me to be happy. but i do have something to say on the issue of marriage equality, gender equality, racial equality, and equality for kids who can’t read good. i’ve just never been very good at keeping my mouth shut.
equality is “the state of being equal, esp. in status, rights, and opportunities.”
when i was living in san francisco, california attending school for fashion design, i met my first openly gay friend. i know, how stereotypical can i get? he was incredibly sassy, bitchy, and had pretty good dance moves. he was a very talented artist and a pretty terrible seamster. he loved lady gaga and making fun of what other girls were wearing. he and i were very different. i came from a mountain town with roughed-up knees and a taste for adventure. he grew up in a suburban neighborhood full of shopping malls and “hyphy” music. he once asked me if my town had electricity. he also once removed my bra at a party with one hand. no man has ever topped that move since. he made me laugh and i liked him.
having never been friends with someone of a different race, let alone a different sexual orientation (seriously, we were pretty much all white), i still grew fond of him very quickly. why shouldn’t i? i was never taught that there was anything wrong with him. yes, i did grow up in a catholic home attending mass every sunday, no exceptions, but my parents never taught me to judge other people just because they might be different (even if they didn’t agree with it themselves). i remember once when my oldest sister was in town, my dad asked “are you dating any boys?” she answered no. “are you dating any girls?” he followed up, “because that would be ok too, you know.” my sister is now engaged to a loud, loving Australian man, but it’s nice to know that despite my dad’s personal religious beliefs, he was ready to love each of us, no matter what.
that’s when i learned hate is a taught notion. it is not inherent. it is not intuitive. it is learned.
during the 2008 election, i was still in san francisco but registered to vote in colorado because i was too lazy and a little too scared to commit to the california driver’s license. this meant that i was not able to vote against proposition 8. so instead, i marched against it. it was the first political rally i’ve ever attended, and nothing has ever restored my faith in humanity more. i marched with a group of 100% complete heterosexuals. not one of us in my party was gay. but we were there with our buttons and our voices supporting equality in status, rights and opportunities for my friend from college, my friend who came out after leaving that small town, and for many more i’ve met along the way. the streets were lined with dark figures, candles, and cheers. we walked for miles in peace and in purpose with the hopes that prop 8 would not pass. as you all know, it did, which is why we’re still talking about this today.
recently while visiting my best friend and her new beau in her new home states away, we were discussing what time period we would have liked to grow up in. the consensus was the 1960’s because of the music and the spirit that seemed to blow across the country. i, of course, said something about wanting to be an explorer or a native american or annie oakley, but that’s beside the point. i think the reason that the 60’s seemed so appealing is because change was in motion. it felt like a break from the old towards something new. but we decided though the 60’s sounded exciting, we wouldn’t be able to be us now, back then. what i mean is as a woman, despite the beginnings of change, i wouldn’t get to have roughed-up knees and a taste for adventure. more than likely, i would be married and pregnant and wearing a dress no matter the occasion.
what’s most interesting to me is the generation that rode freedom buses with flowers in their hair while humming to bob dylan’s harmonica is the exact generation that is now in congress, still arguing about someone else’s equality. sure, i can’t really imagine john boehner or rush limbaugh passing around the old peace pipe (though i bet they tried it), but they are both in their 60s now, which means they were teenagers during beatlemania, the moon landing, martin luther king’s “i had a dream speech” and jfk’s assassination. they’ve seen real movement. they’ve seen real change. honestly, that’s more than i can say about myself.
today the supreme court began discussing the interpretation of proposition 8 within the rights of the constitution of the united states of america. in response, facebook, twitter, and other social media sites have flooded with a universal red equals sign in support of same sex marriage. i’ve chosen not to post this image on my profile page. clearly, i’m a supporter, a follower, and a believer. i’m choosing to not post this image because equal rights is not a fad. it is not hashtag-able. it is not something that trends for a week until kim kardashian gets re-pregnant. remember kony 2012? right, me neither.
support should be intangible. to me, support should simply be how we treat one another. i’m not exactly sure how to tweet that.
don’t get me wrong, i’m so proud of everyone who has chosen to post the red sign. i think that it is a beautiful salute to a movement of change within our generation. but i hope that all of us, including myself, remember that saying you’re for something and actually being for something are very different things.
it’s in how we act. it’s in how we react. it’s in what we teach.
60 years from now, when we’re still arguing about someone else’s equality, i hope we can list the reasons why we love instead of the lessons that we hate.