Originally written on October 28, 2009
It was the coldest rain I can remember—a miserable drizzle that slowly worked its way through the clothes and skin and deep into the bones. Despite my trendy, patent leather boots, my feet had become soaked. Through the dampened scarf that was wrapped around my ears, I could hear the chants rise above the traffic, "Stop the hate, vote no on Prop 8." I looked around at the soggy signs stating, "Separate is not Equal" and "Love is Love."
Then, I sneezed, shivered, and asked myself two questions, "What does a straight girl have to do with gay rights?" and "Will I ever feel my toes again?" I decided to address the first by looking back on my life and determining when this issue became my issue.
I was a freshmen in college, walking across campus my first week of school, when a very attractive man rushed up to me and began gushing in a beautiful baritone, "You are fabulous. I love that dress. It would be perfect for the sportswear competition. See, I'm in this pageant this weekend at this gay bar. My boyfriend is a bartender there. My drag name is CoCo. My real name is Mark. I think we're about the same size. Could I borrow it?"
Suddenly, everything I had ever believed about men, and male-female relationships, and homosexuality, and cross-dressing was called to the floor...or rather sidewalk. It took me less than a minute to declare, "You think this one is hot, you should see the rest of my closet. Let's go."
My reasons for this reaction were simple. Mark had been more complimentary, friendly, and honest to me than any of the campus men that I'd met thus far. And, with his coloring, he would look fantastic in my dress. Mark was the first openly gay person that I had ever met. I instantly loved him. In a single moment, I became a hag.
Later that evening, when he left my room with his arms laden down with frocks, I took a while to consider what gay meant...and what it meant to me. A homosexual was someone who was involved, sexually and romantically, with someone of the same sex. So, since they weren't sleeping with me, their orientation was none off my business—problem solved. Even in my eighteen-year old mind, I realized that the only time to be concerned about what goes on in someone's bed is when you are in it with them.
Since Mark, I have been proud to have peopled my world with primarily gay men and lesbians. As a theatre major, dancer, and feminist activist, it was to some degree inevitable. But, much was by choice. In my gay friends, I found people who because of their own struggle to find acceptance and combat bigotry, were not quick to judge me. Coming from a highly dysfunctional family in a small town where I often felt defined by "the sins of the father," it was so liberating to be appraised based on my own merits and not preconceptions. Also, many of my companions had been forced to keep their true personality hidden for years. So, when they finally took the courageous step and "came out," they embraced their new self and their new world with an enthusiasm, optimism, and the philosophy that no moment should be wasted. I quickly adopted this mindset and zest for living as my own and it has defined who I am for many years. And, let's be honest, would I have the impeccable fashion sense, decorating abilities, quick wit, great hostess skills, and sleek signature bob if most of the boys in my life had not been gay? Probably not.
When my third husband and I started seriously contemplating divorce, yet another occasion for contemplation presented itself. What was marriage? What did it mean? Why do we do it?
My conclusion was that marriage, in its purest, non-political sense, was twofold. First off, it was a public decree of love and commitment which gave the relationship legitimacy in the eyes of family, friends, and society. Secondly, it was a legally-binding partnership that allowed both parties tax breaks, healthcare advantages, social security benefits, inheritance, child custody, and recognized decision making. Viewing it this way, it made perfect sense why every human would want the right to be married...even if I should probably have mine taken away for abuse.
So even if marriage was desirable, did the kind of relationship that I deemed worthy of this lofty privilege exist?
I looked around at the couples in my life to see if any had maintained the intimacy and esteem that I felt defined a perfect union. I found this combination of affection, communication, and mutual respect in my best friends. After fourteen years, these two men still held each other with the highest regard, kissed whenever they passed in the hall, and genuinely listened to what the other had to say, even if they disagreed. And yet, they are not allowed to marry. I, however, who has botched three marriages, and but good, am more than welcomed to go out there and find husband number four. To any logical person, this should be utterly ridiculous.
I think Lea DeLaria said it best with, "They are preserving the sanctity of marriage, so that two gay men who've been together for twenty-five years can't get married, but a guy can still get drunk in Vegas and marry a hooker at the Elvis chapel! The sanctity of marriage is saved!"
In the United States, the institution of marriage, as it stands, with its walls cracked by prejudice, ceilings moldy with hatred, and floor slanting toward ignorance, must be demolished. This faulty structure, that will not allow the best and bravest humans I know to enter there, should be leveled and swept away. In its place, let us build a new institution that welcomes true love and commitment in whatever form it chooses to walk through the door.
In closing, what does this straight girl have to do with gay rights? By fighting against Proposition 8, I am fighting for a world that is a more enlightened, kinder, wittier, wiser, and stylish place for all humans who live here...of which, I am one. And so, I will be honored to stand in the pouring rain, the blowing snow, or the scorching sun to insure that my brothers and sisters in humanity are given the right to fully and legally love through marriage.
the bourbonistA, Promoting Debauchery and stamping out political-correctness one blog at a time.