This did not happen by pure grace or accident. It took years of protests and demands for equal rights. It took Stonewall where gays and lesbians refused to let the police do what police had always done which was to shame and arrest them and they fought back. It took literature, it took the AIDS crisis, it took lawmakers brave enough to step forward and support gay rights. It took kids who were brave enough to come out of the closet and say, "There is nothing wrong with me. I am who I am and I deserve the same rights as any other kids." Who refused to be bullied. Who refused to be shamed back into the closet. It took Rock Hudson's death. It took Ellen Degeneres, it took Rosie O'Donnell, it took families who supported their kids in every way. It took PFLAG, it took Will and Grace, it took that couple down the street who refused to pretend that they were roommates and who came to community potlucks with casseroles and kids in strollers and matching gold bands on their left hands. It took couples who had no desire to become public figures but who had been together so long that it became unbearable for them to not only pretend they weren't together but to demand military benefits, spousal benefits when it came to health insurance and social security benefits and the rights to be with their loved ones in hospitals as spouses who had more right than a family of birth which had abandoned their gay sons and lesbian daughters until they ended up in hospitals and maintained that they were the ones who legally had the rights to determine medical care for children they had perhaps not seen in many, many years. It has taken dignity and honor and anger and patience and impatience and the absolute refusal to remain under the cover of darkness. It has taken gay pride parades. It took flaming queens and bull dykes, it took what we used to refer to as "lipstick lesbians" who presented themselves as part of a community which refused to be judged on how they had been born. It took victims of the sorts of therapy which promised to change one's sexual orientation to finally step forward and say, "This is bullshit! I have no need to change and I couldn't if I wanted to!" It took your aunt, your brother, your daughter, your grandmother who began to refuse to pretend that their partners were simply good friends and quite frankly told family members that these were their partners in all ways. It took children who, in telling their parents, were at grave risk of being kicked out of the family, being told they were sinners and were no longer welcome in their own homes. It took Harvey Milk, it took Matthew Shepherd. It took ministers speaking compassion and truth from the pulpits, it took teachers who accepted kids the way they were and supported them when perhaps families at home did not.
I could go on for days. And now there are laws which ensure so many of the civil rights that cis-gendered people have enjoyed just by accident of birth. The Supreme Court has ruled that love is love and cannot be denied on basis of gender.
And yet. Here we are, fighting again, this time over the rights of transgendered people and it makes my heart sick.
These "bathroom bills" as they are known are so destructive and so ridiculous. To be told that you can only use a public restroom designated to the gender given to you on your birth certificate. I mean- there's really no way to determine, in many cases, whose birth certificate needs verifying. In the name of equality should we all have to show our birth certificates to government-employed bathroom attendants?
Hell, I had a distant relative whom I would have sworn was a transgendered female had I not known that she did indeed give birth several times. But if I had been the bathroom police, I would have asked to see her birth certificate if that were the sort of thing I was concerned about.
And as always with these issues of civil rights, the religious right is behind so much of it. Whether it's slavery or homosexuality, you can find a place in the Bible that proves your point. Unless you're looking to Jesus for the final word in which case you won't find it.
When I am feeling compassionate about it all, I try to remember that these people operate out of fear and out of ignorance but as Jessie and I agreed the other day, there are an infinite number of ways to educate yourself on these issues and those who refuse to do so do so out of blind hatred and closed-mindedness and there goes my compassion.
Yes. Changes have happened far faster than I thought they would but as with most things, it's one step forward and two steps back. The struggle continues and all anyone is asking for is equal rights, equal protection under the law. And don't even talk to me about the founding fathers and what they would have wanted. Fuck that. They wanted slaves and they had them. They wanted men to be the rulers and they got that. It's taken many years for our country to realize that at least in some ways, the Constitution was a flawed document, however ground-breaking and amazing it was for its era.
And now we do have equal rights (at least under the law, if not in reality) for people of color and for women and yes, even for same-sex couples. And we have leaders from the president on down who do speak of the rights of the transgendered. But the battle is still ongoing and as with all of these issues, it's going to take a lot of people who refuse to be defined by their sex organs and it's going to take a lot of people who do not suffer fools gladly and refuse to do business with the states who pass these laws, who refuse to remain silent because this issue "does not affect them."
Just as no one should let someone get by with telling a joke that is obviously racist or someone using words which are not acceptable to describe someone who is differently abled, we should not remain silent when people spew their fear and ignorance about the LGBTQ community. I don't care if people like Donald Trump ARE making certain people feel as if it's acceptable to do these things, it is not. And we, who try to act always out of love and compassion and who are able to at least try to imagine ourselves in the shoes of others, have to stand up, be brave, tell the truth and shame the devil.
Well, at least that's how I see it.
I want my grandbabies to grow up in a world where we accept each other on the basis of who they are, not what they are. Where the vast diversity of humans on this earth is celebrated, not vilified.
I couldn't pick Chris Hemsworth out of a line-up of two but I love him for what he told his daughter.
All right. I'll put my soapbox back under the counter but goddamn it! Sometimes I just have to step up and make my say.
All love...Ms. Moon
P.S. I am most grateful for all of the differently-gendered people I have come to know and love in my life. They have expanded my definition of normalcy, educated me, loved me, and filled my heart with their strength, their quiet bravery, and their refusal to stay silent.
Also, they are absolutely, without doubt, some of the best people, parents, and friends anyone could ever know. I am blessed with their presences in my life. And I am pretty sure they know that.
Amen, Sister Moon!ReplyDelete
I have mentioned before that my grandfather was gay. During the war he came into town and met my grandma and as far as I can figure tried to make a go of it as a straight man. My grandma got pregnant at 16, had my dad at 17 then two more babies before she was 19. Then he left. As I am only speculating, I gather it was just too much for him to live the lie. He moved to east Vancouver, a community full of gay-closeted men, and lived his life there until he died in a tragic accident in his late 50's. Family stories, told in whispers, say he wasn't a nice man. And maybe he wasn't. But I often wonder what life would be like for him today and would it have changed his destiny. Maybe he wouldn't have been a mean alcoholic. Maybe if he was accepted, treated with love and compassion he would have lived a better life. I am quite convinced he would have.ReplyDelete
Thank you, thank you. Keep that soapbox handy, for you speak the truth.ReplyDelete
every last word.
Thank you. Absolute perfection.ReplyDelete
This should be required reading for every soul. Amen.ReplyDelete
And thank you.
Thanks, Mary-It is amazing what has happened. I never thought I'd see gay marriage in my lifetime. But here we are. And yet..ReplyDelete
The work continues. And the hate and fear continues. For every child who is lucky enough to be born into a family like yours, there is a kid who is confused and ashamed and fearful to be who he/she/they is.
Spread the love, sister. It ain't over yet.
As a conservative Christian, i love my lesbian daughter, i love her transgender fiancee, and i want them to be able to use whichever restroom makes them comfortable. What the crazies are afraid of is someone going in the "wrong" restroom with the intent to molest someone. These laws are useless for the purpose of preventing that because very few in the LGBT community turn out to be molesters or rapists or whatever it is they are afraid "those people" will do.ReplyDelete
It won't stop people like the guy who recently dressed up as a woman and went in the ladies room with a camera in a purse and tried to slide it under the stalls to get pictures of the women in there.
My brother stopped at a rest area one time while on a vacation, and the man next to him was very obviously trying to look over the barrier between them while they were using the facilities. That kind of stuff won't be prevented by these laws.
Whatever i believe personally about the lifestyle some people live doesn't matter. What matters is that they are equals in the sight of the law of the land, and need to be treated as such.
Amen. We have come a long, long way -- farther than I ever expected when I was young. But yes, there's still a lot of ignorance out there.ReplyDelete
What I hate is the way the religious right has couched these "bathroom bills" in a mantle of public safety. As if having transgender people use the bathroom of their choice will lead to an epidemic of restroom rape. It's ridiculous. I'm frankly astonished that people fall for it. (And I don't think they do, really -- I think they just use that excuse to permit their own ingrained prejudices.)
yes, all of that. human sexuality is not either/or, it's a whole range of being. I was so proud of my children when in school they stood up for and protected the gay students in their school. the religious right doesn't seem to understand that religious freedom means the right to practice their religion, not that they have the right to force their religion on others. and this whole bathroom thing is absurd. they can pass all the laws they want but those laws won't stop perverts from going into bathrooms. it's not the differently gendered who molest women and children. I almost feel sorry for those who are so filled with hate and disgust. they must be very unhappy people.ReplyDelete
Beautiful post, Ms. Moon! We've come far but still so much farther to go. I enjoy your writing so much, and your thoughts, but this is one of your crown jewels! Thank you!ReplyDelete
Some of your best writing since I started reading, Ms. Moon! I love it when you get up on your soapbox because you are SO ARTICULATE. You put into words, into poetry, all the things I think but am so clunky when I try to express them. Don't ever stop doing that.ReplyDelete
Ach, Chris H is a sweetie pie. Lovely guy. And his filmy buddies are all lovely guys. Good role models.ReplyDelete
You know, I am so grateful for the internet? It has given me, over the last whatever years, the most marvellous education in acceptance and positivity. Real education. It's helped me learn to see people as people, and empathy and acceptance as paramount.
I used to feel far less understanding of transitioning than I do now, and fara more focused on the binary. While I don't have the proper face to face experience of trans friends that you do, I've really undergone the sort of educational sea change that you speak of in terms of gender (and around sex, too) and it's been invaluable. Yes, it is all right there. Most moving are the stories of kids and teens and the parents that have done it right - and they are all there for the viewing, it's true.
But horrible Mike Huckabee was right to talk about urban bubbles - when you step outside the bubble, it can be a cold n' scary place.
I'm in the south right now and the other night, we had a black man as an uber driver and this is all he talked about, the bathroom issue. Only he was against it. Against trans people, against them having rights. So picture it, I was in a strange town, in a strange neighborhood with a strange man at the wheel. It rattled me. Imagine how a trans person would feel in that position?! A man, who just 50 years ago, would have had to use a different bathroom himself, segregated and without rights, spewing hatred to a stranger. Imagine how he talks to people he knows?!ReplyDelete
Anyway. This blows my mind. All bathrooms should just have a toilet symbol on them. It doesn't matter whose ass its shooting out of, it's shit. Everybody poops.