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Monday, November 5, 2012

bringing it home

On the eve of the election, I have come to really understand something.

We human beings, because we are actually spiritual beings, cannot live in a stagnant environment.  We need strife and discomfort in order to grow and evolve.  While we may not be proud to admit this, most of the time if life is cushy we just go along with it, floating down the river with not a whole lot of intention.

But give us conflict, injustice or threat and we will turn ourselves inside out to stand by what we believe in or to find peace in unrest.

Or maybe that's just me.

I have come to believe that this election is a good thing.  Painful, soul-bending and profoundly wrenching, but ultimately for the good.  I hear story after story of people whose hearts and minds have changed.  I have gay friends who are standing up for themselves for the first time and letting their voices be heard.  We are hurting, but we are growing.  We are expanding. 

And we are better for it. 

I got this email last night from a friend:

"I just got home from the phone bank, and had a message from my husband's cousin's wife. She has NEVER called me. I returned her call, and this is what she told me. She is a YES on One supporter, but also a devout Catholic. At the end of Mass last evening, the priest read a letter from the bishop, telling the Catholics that their duty is to vote NO on one. Anyone who votes for Question One is not a good Catholic. This woman was very upset and torn. Then, when she went on Facebook today, I had shared the awesome video of the Flash Mob Dance. She saw me in the dance, and read what I wrote about it. She took it as a gift from God, and it strengthened her conviction that it is RIGHT to vote Yes on one, and that it doesn't make her a bad Catholic! She said that the shared video gave her strength and peace!"

How cool is that?

I have another dear friend who has been grappling with her family relationships since she came out.  She is a very quiet and tender-hearted person who hasn't ever confronted the homophobia in a family that alienates her.  During this campaign she has found her voice.  She recently wrote a message to her family and summarized it for me.

If you still aren't sure if equality matters, read this:

"They may have already disowned me long ago, but I have asked for each one of them to respond to my message and tell me as adults what they really think of me, and what they want in the future for relationships with me. I explained that I had to know these things so that I could start the process of healing, and making myself whole again. And that knowing where I stood in my family, the family I was born into was a big part of my healing process.

I told them that if for some reason they did not see my message until after the vote on Tuesday, their response to me was still just as important.  I told them I was trying hard to go about this in as respectful of a way as possible, and that I hoped they did the same. And that after 31 years of feeling like I did not belong, thus never sharing anything with them, I hoped they could take me reaching out to them and see how difficult and important it really was. I also encouraged them to tell me if they would like to sit down and talk in the future, so that we could discuss the past 31 years.... if that is something they wanted to have. That it was in their hands."

I am very sad to report that my friend's family didn't respond with the love and kindness that I'm sure all of you felt when you just read that.  They were dismissive, rude, accusing and even mean.  Some said they wouldn't respond to her and didn't want to be made to feel bad because of it.  Others said that who she is and how she feels is wrong. 

And while my heart breaks for this dear woman who put her heart on the line like this, her bravery and risk is my favorite thing so far about this campaign.  For her to speak up, especially to her family, to make people take notice of the quiet person they are placing in an unequal status is such a monumental move for her.  I can only think that this type of courage and opening will be rewarded ten fold inside my friend's heart. 

I am convinced that the more you open, the more you risk being honestly you in the world, the deeper your capacity to love.  It is better to feel pain openly than be protected and feel very little. 

Tonight after the girls had gone to bed, Sandi and I were working in our office on our computers.  There was a loud knock on our back door that jumped me in the silent house.  I went out and flipped on the outside light to see no one there. My heart began to hammer in my chest.  I craned my head around and saw the back of a woman's head. I spoke to Sandi and, alarmed, she went to the front windows to see who it was, saying, "Don't open that door."

Have any of you ever had this fear-laden experience when UPS drops a package in the evening? 

Last week a right-wing pastor from a church downeast had an op-ed in the Downeast Coastal Press (the same newspaper Sandi's article "Yes, I'm angry" was in).  I have been urged not to read it but quotes from it are floating around and it sounds archaic and hate-filled.  Allegedly, at some point he talks about how same-sex parents are the "real" parents of their children since they need a donor to procreate and he names us by name and speaks in reference to our children.

It is not a far reach to be totally freaked when someone knocks and leaves your doorstep before you turn the light on the night before a major state-wide election.

This is 2012.  Gay people should be free to be out and not fear for their safety.  Nothing less than marriage equality will insure that society's movement is toward acceptance and recognition of all people as equal.  You can't force people to be fair-minded, but you can make it socially unacceptable.

Today was a first for our family:  Maya and I were both on the news today!! Maya was on the news for the voting they did in her preschool (SO CUTE)  and I was on as a recap from the flash mob.   If you watch, you can't miss Maya as the curly-haired blondie with a pink fleece on.  I was so proud of our little voter casting her ballot for her favorite Teddy Graham. 

With their iron wills and their scrapy know-how, our girls are activists in the making.  I am so proud to show them this.

I also wanted to share with you my awesome friend Jess's Facebook post this morning:

"Top 10 reasons I can't wait to vote YES on 1 tomorrow!!!

10. My young daughters will know that I will love and support them and will never turn my back on them regardless of the person they were born to spend their lives with.

9. The God I believe in doesn’t want me to judge others or let prejudices rule my life.

8. Some of my closest friends in the LGBT community are discriminated against every day and it hurts my heart to see this. I will not treat people different than myself as lesser individuals. This is a civil rights issue.

7. My LGBT friends are better Mothers than I could ever strive to be. They are parents by choice, not chance. The process is not easy for them which is probably why they are the most loving, committed parents.

6. Because using “don’t redefine marriage” as a reasoning strategy is as weak and meaningless as telling my kids “because I said so”

5. I have listened to the ambiguous arguments of the opposition as they recite their interpretations of the Bible and none of them reference the God that loves all people and doesn’t judge others.

4. Because civil unions are a complete joke and don’t come close to providing the same rights as marriage does. Any person who states otherwise hasn’t looked into it.

3. I want to show my children that I am part of a generation that loves all people, even those different in some ways than my husband and myself. Neither one of us is a bigot (a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance)

2. The LGBT families will not defile or corrupt the purity and perfection of marriage. Straight people have been doing that for decades without any one taking away their rights to do so.

1. I don’t feel threatened that LGBT weddings are going to be the best events EVER, making my own wedding look lame. It’s OK, I can support that as long as I’m invited ;)

I’m not trying to create drama or argument. This issue is one that means a great deal to me, my family, and friends. My beliefs are my own and I respect your opinion as well. As my friend, please don’t go to the polls and check a box without careful consideration. Marriage matters to all families!"
I have another super cool friend who spent most of today writing individual messages to people urging them to use their influence and powerful voice to speak out about question 1.   
I have the greatest friends.

my jack-o-lantern
We are spending election night with family and friends who we have marched alongside for the past many months.  I plan to have a glass of wine in my hand all night as we watch the polls roll in.   I will keep you posted.

There have been some significant personal achievements for me throughout this campaign.  I have not been hateful.   I've been angry and assertive, but never hateful.  I've taken emotional risks and made myself vulnerable to people to really let them know what is at stake for us in this vote.  When I was down and beaten a few weeks ago, I (with the help of those who love me) dug myself out a hole and found a way to bring love.  I have given my time, my money and my cooking skills to the campaign.  I have let in the immense love and support people have extended to me and to our family.

But the thing I am the most proud of is that as I sit in my house tonight with my family sleeping peacefully upstairs and a light snow falling outside (an omen?)  I feel somewhat content.  I have pulled myself back in to my own heart, into my precious family, where we cannot lose because we have each other.  Rights would be nice, but nothing can replace love.

I really, really needed to come to this place before people head to the polls.   Yes, they will be voting on my civil right to have a marriage license.  But they will never get to vote on my right to love.  Because my love is as big as the oceans and no referendum can confine it. 

Our front door.


The Pressey family said...

I just wanted to share with you...on the morning after the flash mob I went on my facebook wall to see what my friends were up to for the day, the first thing I saw on my wall was a link to the flash mob dance shared by at least 10 of my friends! The first person I saw that had posted it lives in Italy! She had several likes, comments (ALL positive) and shares on it! I dare say your firght for equality has gone global! Your voice has touched so many throughout the world!

Clarice said...

I kept a tab open with the Portland Press Harold all night to monitor the vote on one tonight. I'm so happy for you and your family. Congratulations!

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