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No, We Can’t. But Yes, We Will.
Room for Squares
by Philip Wong on Nov 07, 2008
Every time there’s a cause for celebration, leave it to the Castro to break out the police barricades and party streamers. Tuesday night was such a night, as our nation celebrated one of it most historic victories in the announcement of our new President Elect, Barack Obama. However, as I stood among the throngs of people reveling in the majorly good news, I couldn’t help but wonder to myself: “These people are gay. Why are they celebrating?”
In my bedroom just an hour prior, I sat watching Mr. Obama’s acceptance speech. He was at times inspiring and other times moving. His chants of “Yes We Can, Yes We Can” were altogether uplifting. Then, I’d turn to the local news and see that Proposition 8 was on its way to victory. And suddenly, it wasn’t so much “Yes We Can” but “Yes, We Can’t.”
As the numbers for 8 were coming in, I was more than disappointed. I was dejected. I was angry. I was sad. I was mad. I was hurt by the success of blatant discrimination. Yes, Tuesday night was an amazing experience but for all the wrong reasons. As a ban on same-sex marriage, the passing of Prop 8 eliminates our rights. I felt eliminated. I mean, I could understand why people all around me were so ecstatic, but I couldn’t understand why I seemed to be the only one who wasn’t. We all should’ve felt eliminated. Why was I the only one?
Where was my resilience? Where were the fabulous survival instincts that those famous disco divas of old used to sing about? Why was I giving in to the feelings of defeat and isolation that proponents of Prop 8 undoubtedly wanted all of us to feel? If Cher could outlive fur vests, polyester suits, sequined gowns, fishnet cat suits and platinum blonde wigs, then surely I could withstand a little misstep like this. Life is like one giant dance floor. If you don’t move in time to the beat, then the beat goes on without you. Better to move as an army of dancers than to suffer alone the injuries of all.
We are, in fact, stronger in numbers. So while we may have suffered one setback on the road to equality, we can’t forget that we have also won one enormous victory. Mourn our losses because they are many, but celebrate the victories because they are few. Somebody really important said that once. I think it was Debbie, Michael’s mom on "Queer As Folk". Come to think of it, she was probably quoting somebody else, but whatever the case, she was right. I could either see our loss that night as one giant step back, or I could count it as a slight misstep in the giant leap forward that we had made. Eventually, I chose the latter.
That was the same feeling that pervaded the crowd gathered outside City Hall on Wednesday night as well. As the many leaders, who were out in our support, spoke about the fight ahead of us, I listened while trying to keep my candle flame from going out. I couldn’t help but make the obvious and somewhat clichéd connection between that flame and us. Sure, we are angry and upset. Who can blame us after this white-hooded victory? But change came on Tuesday night, and it will come again. As of right now, no, we can’t get married. But we remain hopeful, optimistic and exuberantly together. That is the strength of community, and that can never be eliminated.
by Philip Wong on Nov 07, 2008