OK, I broke down twice this week: first when I heard the Gay Men's chorus sing the National Anthem on the steps of the Supreme Court and secondly (it amazes me to admit) when I just saw Lady Gaga sing it on line at a Gay Pride event in New York, clutching a rainbow flag in her hand.
The Prop 8 and DOMA decisions didn't do what I'd hoped for--a Supreme Court decision as wide as previous decisions on Row v. Wade and in Civil rights cases in the 60's--a decree that made marriage equality the law of the land.
But, given that, the two decisions were stunning and wondrous.
I grew up with a lesbian first-cousin. She was much older than me and is now, sadly, dead, but Sarita and her partner Eloise introduced me to a life that wasn't even spoken about back in the 50's. No one in my father's family ever admitted it because it couldn't be admitted, but there was a lesbian couple in our midst. I loved them both and though I didn't have words to express what I 'knew' about them, I 'knew' it non-the-less.
I remember one day, talking with my father after my mother was dead, so I was in my mid-twenties, and he started talking about how much he liked Sarita and Eloise, how much fun they were. How loving they were with him with my mother died.
"You know they're a couple?" I asked.
He looked confused, shook his head, seemed anxious. "They're roommates," he said.
I pondered that a moment and agreed. "Roommates" I said, knowing how to pick my battles.
They lived in Florida--Sarita and Eloise--and drove to the high school where they both taught in separate cars, never drawing attention to their relationship. How humiliating and wrong that was that they had to 'hide' Who They Were.
Of all my first cousins (and I had over 20) they were my favorite couple. They never, ever had public displays of emotion like the awkward kisses and forced hugs of my heterosexual couples. But I would watch them looking at each other on the edges of things, noticing their smiles and arched eye-brows. They were masters of 'irony', my favorite attitude toward life's ebbs and flows.
I wish Sarita was still alive and I could invite them to Connecticut and preside at their marriage (which my current bishop, unlike the last, would allow).
What amazes me about the GLBT acceptance in society is how fast it happened, while the rights of black and brown minorities still have to be waged. It just goes to show, I believe, that racism is much deeper, much more entrenched, much more DNA deep that homophobia ever was.
I think most people (like my father) who know a gay/lesbian couple are able to love them and, if he had had time, come to accept their love.
Here's how I know racism is deep and murky and hard to admit or dislodge: my son is married to a Taiwanese-American woman. It was a few years after their twins were born that someone said, "you have bi-racial grandchildren" and I realized I'd never thought of them that way. But I know and know fair well, that if Josh had married a Black woman or Hispanic woman, I would think of my grandchildren as bi-racial. Somehow Asians (probably because they are almost always perceived as educated and middle class or above) don't register with me as a 'different race'.
But, I'm sad to admit, Hispanics and African Americans do register on my compass as 'another race'.
So, if I, so Left wing I scare myself, make that distinction, is it any wonder that others, to the far Right of me, don't even recognize their racism?
As I celebrate the rapidly moving 'marriage equality' movement, I am reminded that racial equality has not had such momentum and good luck.
I want, someday soon, to tear up when Immigration Reform (good luck!) is a reality and I hear the National Anthem in Spanish. And I long for the day when African Americans are truly, truly equal and free in the patchwork quilt of ethnicity that is this country.
I long for that--and long for the GLBT community, that has made such advances, to realize that their Hispanic and Black brothers and sisters need their help.....
I really long for that....
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