supremegoddessofall: (gay terror alert)
Someone wrote "queer" on my car the other day.

Honestly, I have no idea how long it was there - it was my girlfriend who noticed it.

We were getting in the car, headed off to pick up a friend. I got in, but she stood there for a minute and stared at the passenger side door.

"Did you know someone wrote in the dust on your car?"

No, I hadn't.

But they had. Someone had written "queer," and someone (else? the same person?) had then attempted to erase it.

Part of me is curious as to who did it, and why. Was it a neighbor? Someone at school? If, so, who? One of my students? A peer?

And was it designed to be an insult, or a compliment?

I mean, I am, after all, queer. A dyke, a byke, a lesbian-identified woman, a pansexual, a Kinsey 5....I am all of those things, so I can truly be upset if someone else labels me as such?

And yet...

We still live in a world where kids play "smear the queer" as children. Where "queer" is a slur hurled at those who dare to be variant in their gender presentation or love interest. Where "queers" are sometimes beaten, tied to fences, and left to die.

A world where, because I am "queer," I can be fired in many states simply for being perceived as queer. A world where I cannot marry, and am not guaranteed many of the basic rights non-queer people take for granted.

And so I do wonder who decided to whisper queer onto my car. And I wonder what they meant by it. Was it an affirmation of who I am? Or was it yet another way in which to designate me as different, as other.

**********

When I was 20 years old and discovering my political self, Matthew Shepard was murdered shortly before National Coming Out Day (NCOD). At the time, I was heavily involved in the LGBT organization at my school. We already had an event planned for NCOD, and while we were unwilling to allow the tragedy to overshadow what was meant to be a celebration of our lives, we also couldn't ignore it.

And so I was chosen to be the voice of our group. The voice of my people. This is what I said that day, and what was broadcast on the news:

Let me tell you a story: Last week, late Tuesday or early Wednesday in Laramie, Wyoming, two men, Russell Henderson and Aaron Mckinney, drove off from a bar in a truck with a young man named Matthew Shepard. Once inside the truck, they beat Matthew, then drove to the outskirts of Laramie. There, they proceeded to tie him, crucifix style, to a fence, and beat him some more. Then they burned him with cigarettes, smashed in the back of his skull with a handgun, and left him to die. When he was found late Wednesday afternoon, almost eighteen hours after
the ordeal began, the bicyclists who rescued him first thought that he was a scarecrow, dangling and strapped to the fence. Early Monday morning, Matthew died in the hospital, having never regained consciousness.

What did Matthew do to "provoke" this? He embarrassed one of the men. Let me say that again--he embarrassed one of them. Matthew was gay. He made the mistake of making a pass at one of the men. And they killed him for it.

Matthew's killers will be tried for first-degree murder, robbery, and kidnapping. But they will not be charged with committing a hate crime. Wyoming, along with several other states, including New York, has yet to pass hate-crime legislation including hate crimes committed because of real or perceived sexual orientatino. And thus the true reason Matthew
Shepard was murdered will not be entered into the lawbooks. Make no doubtabout it--Matthew Shepard was killed because he was gay.

Why do we tell you this story, especially on today, of all days? Today is supposed to be a celebration, a marking of all the progress we have made. Today we celebrate the tenth anniversary of Coming Out Day. But how can we celebrate, how can we feel we've accomplished anything, when things like this still happen?

Today is the day where queer people all over the country take the step, or celebrate having taken the step, to come out of the closet. To stop hiding, stop pretending. To stop changing pronouns when talking about the people we love. To feel proud of who we are and who we love,
instead of ashamed.

I strongly fear that many of our brothers and sisters may want to return to the safety of that closet. To feel that they have to make a choice between being gay and staying alive.

But we cannot go back, now more than ever. Rather, we need to come out stronger and more often. If we are as visible as we can be, if every gay man and woman came out, perhaps we wouldn't seem so isolated, so few. It's easier to fear and hate what you do not now. And as long as we remain closeted, we shall forever be the other.

We are your mothers and fathers, your brothers and sisters, your aunts and uncles, your cousins, your friends, your neighbors, and your classmates. We are old and young, fat and thin, healthy and not, rich and poor. We are lesbians and gays, bisexuals and transgendereds, fags and dykes, butches and femmes, queers and queens. And we have always been here. Someone you love, right now, is queer. And they are struggling. Let them know that you love them. Make them feel safe. And make sure that we never have another young man or woman die like Matthew Shepard did.

We'd like to ask that everyone in the Union participate in a minute of silence in memory of Matthew Shepard and the countless thousands of gay men and women who have also been murdered whose names are unknown.


You'll be glad to know that the thousand or so onlookers did indeed observe a minute of silence.

***********

I gave that speech more than ten years ago. So much has changed in that time, but so much remains to be changed.

So I will remain watchful, remain vigilant. Sometimes the whisperers don't stop at cowardly writing. Sometimes they come with knives. Or with guns.

It would be easy to remain hidden. As a femme, I often am not visible as a queer woman. It would be a simple matter to allow myself to be perceived as heterosexual.

But I cannot. Or rather, I will not. I will wear my "queer flag" on my sleeve, and I will wear it proudly.

I cannot countenance doing otherwise, as long as my brothers and sisters who can't pass as easily for "straight" do not have the luxury that I do. So I stand in solidarity. I refuse to change pronouns. I speak about my wife, and I use that language to do so. I out myself whenever appropriate, to as many people as appropriate.

Because they need to know we're here, even when they don't think they can see us.

And I won't stop. Not until "queer" is no longer a whispered insult.

Even if that means that sometimes I get "queer" written on my car.

Which I haven't washed. And don't plan to any time in the near future, either.

Let them see I'm queer.

And let them see I won't back down.

I am indeed here. I am indeed queer.

And you better well get used to it.
supremegoddessofall: (gay marriage)
This kid is amazing. Talking about his mothers and fathers and what the legalization of marriage for LGBT folk in California meant to he and his mothers. Totally SFW.

supremegoddessofall: (Default)
courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] amazoniowan, Jon Stewart covers the latest Congressional hearing on gays in the military...

amazing...

Jun. 28th, 2007 12:10 pm
supremegoddessofall: (value all families)
This man is absolutely amazing. I almost cried listening to him.

Rev. Carlton Pearson, a former fundie/dominionist turned inclusionist: http://tinyurl.com/2b4t3p (link opens straight to windows media player)
supremegoddessofall: (skepticism)
Felt the need to crosspost this, because it's nice to hear it from a straight male:

[livejournal.com profile] happydog, here

"Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?" - Ernest Gaines

I don't know. I have been asking myself that question since way back. About 5 years ago Cox Communications made this big ass deal about how they were going to stop showing the adult channels in the daytime "during school hours." Publicized this all over the place.

The day after they made this big announcement and put it into effect, I got ill at work and came home about 3:00, which is about the time that a lot of school kids get home. I take a bunch of Nyquil and put on the TV and there is this John Woo movie with this elaborate shooting scene where two guys are walking toward each other firing .45's at each other point blank. In slow motion. With splattering gore and pieces falling off, the whole deal, in exquisite detail.

Maybe it was the Nyquil cutting in but I thought, "Really, how in the hell could live sex be worse than that?" It's the same old tiresome message that our society always sends us. KILL OK, FUCK BAD!

At this point I'm just so damn tired of it. It's like hearing kids use the word "bitch." Little boys up to college boys (and yes, I hear you saying "what the hell's the difference?") with that stupid word flying out of their mouth, calling each other bitch, calling women bitches, calling their moms bitches, all over the place.

Is there no one who realizes how stupid this is? How stupid this sounds? How idiotic our society is when we disrespect women? How idiotic we are? Is there anybody besides me (and you my friends of course) who ever gets bone-achingly, world wearyingly tired of the immense and rampant amount of UTTER STUPIDITY that our society foists on people?

OK, I will admit something here. Seeing two guys kiss? Still makes me uncomfortable sometimes. I won't lie. I was born in 1960 in Gulfport, Mississippi, which is a terribly, horribly homophobic area of the country. My dad couldn't even properly explain homosexuality to me. One conversation that I had with him about a gay guy once, he warned me against hanging around the guy. He seemed to think or imply that the gay would somehow transmit itself to me like a cold. Like one day I would be straight, go hang around a gay man, and then wake up the next day with a strange desire for Liza Minelli CDs and properly ironed curtains. Or something.

Now I can write that off to my dad's generation and to his culture. He is in his 70s, it's the Deep South. That doesn't make it RIGHT, mind you, but culturally and generationally he's gonna have a difficult time with it.

But when I got out in the wide world (read: college) and met all kinds of different people, and not just people who had spent their entire lives in Harrison County, Mississippi, I realized (and I am not demanding props for being tolerant here, just saying) I realized that homophobia was not workable, and so I hacked away at mine till I wore it down to a nub. Like I said, I am still not completely comfortable with the man-on-man action but you know, I'M WORKING ON IT, OK??

Because I figure that's what DECENT PEOPLE DO. They try to understand others, because that way we all get along. And that's what I always figured decent thinking people would do.

But Jesus H. Christ, you know, it is now 2006, and are we, still, having this argument with people about whether gay people and lesbians and bisexuals are harmful to the public? Whether people are hurting anybody by loving one another? WHY in the hell are we still having this argument?

Was I stupid? When I was a kid I assumed that the future would be a better place, that people would be smarter and more accepting. No, people are just as fucking dumb as they ever were. Dumber even. And if possible, politicians as a whole are even dumber than the average dumbass in the street. Politicians bring the dumbassedness down to new levels. They reach depths of dumbassiosity that even the dumbest average Joe dumbass on the street cannot plumb, and inspire the average Joe dumbass to head even further down into the Pit of Dumbass, leaping off the edge of the Pit of Dumbass without even a parachute or a bungee cord screaming HEY YAWL LOOKA DIS!!

Boy, was I wrong about the future. And I'll tell ya. I am TIRED. I am utterly tired of fighting battles, of telling people "no, it's not okay to use 'gay' as an insult around me," and saying "You know, why can't we just let people be and not legislate their sex lives or their morality, OK?" and saying, "Well, not everyone is a Christian, you know," and, well, all the things you end up having to say over and over again if you are a person who is interested in fairness.

Overall, it makes me wanna lie down in a dark room with a washcloth over my eyes for, say, about 20 years, and then come out and see if the United States has somehow miraculously UNSTUPIDED itself.

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Kimberly Boyd-Bowman

May 2011

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