when i started writing this blog, it never entered my mind that i would end up writing about gay rights (or lack thereof.) i am many things, and yes, lesbian is one of them, but it is certainly not my defining adjective. i see myself as an artist, not a queer artist and i see myself as a babylost mama. i’m not a “lesbian mother”….i am just a mother. and right now, i am a very sad and scared mother, and the fear part of it comes from the recent events that have taken place here in France during the gay marriage debates in the Sénat. that fear comes from the actions of people who think that doing things like this and plastering anti-gay slogans all over gay associations (who cater to gay teens and families, among other groups) are effective ways of expressing their feelings about us.where does all of this hatred come from? what have my wife or i ever done to any of them to make them so violently oppose our right to be together? i honestly do not understand. do they not see that we, too, are human beings…that we have feelings, that we have families and that we just want to be able to live our lives like everyone else? they are simple desires, really. the desire to be with the people you love, the desire to feel safe and comfortable in the world, the desire to be treated with respect and dignity…because that is how we ourselves treat others. i know i am too sensitive and that on top of that my emotions are particularly raw right now, but all of the hate-filled rhetoric, all of the violence…the sheer rancor, it wounds me somehow. it frightens me and makes me feel so very unsafe.
i have always been aware of injustice. i’m a child of the deep South, and i grew up hearing about and witnessing the ugliness of racism and segregation. i remember my mothers stories of separate drinking fountains
and the anger and hatred spewed as southern schools began to integrate:
many of my family members were blatantly racist in their language and attitudes. however, my mother used every opportunity she could find to show me that people are all the same on the inside, that things like skin color mean nothing and that a person’s heart meant everything. she also made sure that i recognized the injustice and discrimination that was taking place all around us.
one of my most vivid and gutwrenching childhood memories is of being in church with my mother, my stepfather and some of my stepfather’s visiting in-laws. it was a special service that day, as a well-known gospel singer was singing a solo. church was normally a place of stifled yawns and jiggly legs for me, but that morning i sat still, riveted by the woman who was singing “There is a Balm in Gilead” with such palpable emotion. i turned to my mother to see if she too was entranced by the sublime sounds that seemed to flow liquid-like from the depths of the singer’s soul. there were tears streaming down my mother’s, and at first i thought it was because she was so moved, but then i looked further down the pew and saw the visiting in-laws, huddled together, snickering into their palms. and then i understood. they couldn’t even hear that breathtaking solo or see the magnificent artist who was sharing it with us. all they saw was a black woman (although the word they were most certainly calling her was no where near as neutral as that.) there was no human being in front of them, there was just a “thing”…an “other”….something ridiculous and worth mockery. it made me sick to my stomach. that day, my mother’s tears showed me that there are people in this world who are truly blind. there are people with shriveled up grinchhearts who do not understand things like compassion and acceptance and unconditional love…people who view the world through a filthy, hate-smeared lens. it was a disillusioning and painful lesson for my young self to learn.
yesterday, i accidentally found myself walking past the Sénat, where gay marriage and adoption were being debated at that very moment. thankfully there were no protesters in front of it. there were, however, a slew of gendarmes and Paris police standing around with their long guns conspicuously dangling from their hips. i was with Tan, little sun’s auntie, and as we walked towards a café, we passed two small groups of young men wearing t-shirts that bore the symbol of the anti-gay marriage/adoption movement. i literally felt nauseous and my heart and head began to race. when we passed the first group i looked at them and shook my head with what i’m sure was pure disgust on my face. “those fucking homophobes,” i said to Tan as we passed the second group. i secretly hoped they would hear me.
today we got good news: the Sénat passed the marriage bill, and now there are few small steps left before it can be signed into law. things looked so hopeful, and Froggy and i began to let ourselves dream a little bit about what the new law would mean for our lives. it felt like it was almost time to break out the champagne.
then i saw the latest headlines here: “Mr. Hollande wants blood. He’s going to get it.” that was a direct quote from one of the leaders of the anti-gay marriage movement. this woman, who Froggy tells me used to be a pseudo-celebrity on the gay nightclub circuit, has also made what sounds like a call for civil war. civil fucking war? over us? i mean, i can see where two nearly middle-aged lesbians who love their cats, and enjoy travel and Walking Dead marathons (and who desperately miss their child) could be terrifying, but is it really worth shedding blood over our wanting to be recognized as a legal family? is violence really preferable to seeing us raising a child together? (and can someone tell me why the hell they aren’t getting this passionate about all the children in foster care or group homes because their parents have abused or neglected them. where’s the indignation about the men and women, the “mother” and “father” they claim every child needs, who kill their children or even their entire families. and what ever happened to the “love thy neighbor” stuff that’s at the heart of the religion they use as an excuse for their bigotry and judgement?)
the truth is that this violent hatred scares me. the way these people see us…it reminds me so much of those assholes in church so many years ago. for people like that, we are something to laugh at, to detest, to mock….and, yes, something to destroy. our loves, our families, they mean nothing to those people. we are things…stereotypes and caricatures, not human beings.
these people are ugly. their ideas, their actions, their threats…..it’s all ugliness, plain and simple. i wish i knew how to numb myself to it.
maybe just looking at the pictures i posted here today will help. maybe knowing that those people frozen in black and white will forever represent ignorance and hatred will help me remember that these people who hate me and Froggy will be viewed the same way some day.