In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, my sister and I had a raging obsession with Madonna. We choreographed our own dances to her albums, which we played over and over again on our casette players, vogueing our little hearts out. This Madonna-love culminated in getting our hands on her 1991 documentary, Truth or Dare, which we somehow convinced our parents to let us watch on VHS in our living room. Afterwards, much to our parents’ mortification, we stomped through the house shouting over and over, “We’re Here! We’re Queer! Get used to it!”, the chant that Madonna & co. took up at a gay rights protest in the film.
I was 10. My sister was 13. My parents’ horror was not a cause of homophobia, it was embarrassment because they thought we didn’t, couldn’t, know what we were saying. They hadn’t even had the Sex Talk with us yet, and they certainly never dreamed of having to have the Gay Sex Talk!
We did and we didn’t know what we were chanting. Our childhood was not sheltered, by any means, and our parents had gay friends. To me, though, being “queer” meant different, strange, outside of the mainstream. This was something that I wholly identified with, and if that meant two men were going to kiss each other, like they did in the movie, that was fine with me too.
As I grew, I unfortunately wavered in my gay rights chanting ways. I held on to my early sensibility that I belonged outside of the norms of society, but when I was in late high school I went through an Evangelical Christian phase, and started to doubt that everyone should be allowed to be any way they wanted to be in the world. I became judgmental and proselytizing. Looking back, I see that this was internalized homophobia on my part, because it came right after having my first experience making out with a girl.
I am glad to say that this phase was brief, and in college I found a church that was Open and Affirming, and from then on have only worshipped in churches that shared my belief that God loves everyone and is for everyone. But I bring up this shift because I was extremely proud of our President, Barack Obama, when he announced in May that he believes that same-sex couples should be able to get married, and described his stance as an “evolution”. He set the tone for others in this country to open themselves up to such an evolving experience on this issue, and I resonated with it because I had been through my own journey.
Many people were sure that Obama’s “coming out” as in support of gay marriage would cause him to lose the 2012 Presidential Election. Last night, such naysayers were proved wrong, and I was so moved that folks stood up for Obama at the polls, some in spite of his stance on gay marriage, and some because of it. I never doubted his choice to affirm gay marriage. I believe in standing up for love, and that in doing so you can never be wrong.
But it wasn’t just Obama’s re-election that is causing those of us in San Francisco to hug total strangers on the street this morning. Maine and Maryland both passed propositions to legalize same-sex marriage, the first time it has been done by popular vote! Minnesota voters struck down a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage in the state. Also, we elected the first openly gay Senator, Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin! Finally, the mayor in Michigan who called homosexuality a “mental disease” has been ousted in a recall election. We are still waiting to hear how Washington state’s measure to legalize same-sex marriage pans out, but suffice it to say that victories for the LGBTQ community were massive in this election.
Last night, 8 adults and one toddler squeezed into our tiny living room/play room/music studio to watch the returns together. When the election was called in favor of Obama, we rejoiced, and we cheered the election of Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, and the news from Maine and Maryland as well. Perhaps the biggest shout, however, was when, in Obama’s acceptance speech, he included “gay or straight” in his rundown of the kinds of people who he will fight for to be able to make it in America. None of us in that room are in committed same-sex relationships, or are necessarily looking for one. But some of us are on the spectrum of sexuality, and we all felt that in that moment, people of the LGBTQ community were not just being “allowed to exist”. They were being welcomed into the fold of our country.
I look forward to bigger change in the four years to come. I would love a federal mandate for marriage equality, from the Supreme Court. I want recognition and rights for Transgendered individuals, to have them be included by name in such a victory speech as well. But I accept that my President is a moderate. I trust his wisdom in the speed of change. I am incredibly buoyed by the fact that more Americans are opening their hearts and minds to the idea that love is something to be celebrated, not legislated.
Also, we ladies get to keep our vaginas! I have grown awfully fond of mine, so I am relieved. There are now a record number of women Senators set to represent their states, so hopefully they will help us stem the tide of repressive misogynistic politics.
I understand that Republicans are not happy today with the results. And I offer them my condolences, as well an opportunity to consider why slightly more than half of the country disagrees with them, to see this as an invitation to evolve, like Obama and I have. We will not tell them how to live their lives. But we will live ours as boldly and beautifully as we can, never looking back.