Today is a very great day.
Like many folks I have met, and received emails from already, I am overcome with emotion, and awe. It is bittersweet in that a thin majority of Californian voters caved into fear and lies to vote in support of hate. I am deeply disgusted with a few neighbors and institutions that have lost their bearings, spending 73 million dollars at a time when kids need scholarships to go to college, and schools need help. When thousands of Californians have lost their homes and jobs... then there is the war. Some how my marriage, and those of many others I know, are more important than any of that.
Religious leaders and institutions have gone into the ditch along with the economy.
What would Jesus do? I am confident that he would say, simply, and with great love, “What is better a gay Christian or a non-gay Christian?
But my feelings of sadness and hurt are far outshone by Obama's victory last night.
The picture above is of my Grandfather. I am not sure when or why it was taken, but it was right after WW I, somewhere in Northern California, around Mt. Shasta, after he was discharged from the military. He was born in Washington, D.C, and learned while serving in the military that he could pass as white. No one knew his secret, that is until he passed away. Given the historical circumstances, it was understandable; deeply sad, but understandable. Given a choice of living with out education or chances and being judged by your skin color, or recreating yourself, well I can understand his decision to tell us that he was an "orphan". I am angry that I will never , ever know who my cousins are on that side of the family.
In this picture he is young, and I think rather handsome. You can see he was happy. I like to think it was because, for the first time he felt freedom; freedom to be who he was, and do what he wanted, with out any judgments or barriers. He was at an age when the world was his oyster. And with out knowing much, I do know that he managed to keep a job, at a time when many, many others were losing theirs. Though, I have no idea who's car it was, I like to believe this was his first car, and you see the joy that anyone has when you buy that first set of wheels. He lived a life in a rural, I can say redneck, far Northern California (they voted a very bright red last night), working in a lumber mill, with three children and a wife (my maternal grandmother).
This was at a time when if the facts had been known that he had married a white woman, he might have been lynched (interracial marriage was illegal at the time), and gawd only knows what would have happened to my mother, aunt and uncle and my grandmother if the facts had been know back then. He passed away a month or so before I was born. All I know of him is from a few pictures, and a few comments by my family. I have no doubt that he was conservative, and quiet, as these are two traits that never stuck to me, but have found a home in the hearts of many of my relatives.
I do have one thing in common with him, though. I lived for a long time with the same fear and self hatred about who I was. I hid it from myself and others for a long time. When I came out, I decided I would live openly, honestly and fight for all the rights and responsibilities that any other person has, because he couldn't. This includes the right to marry.
So it is that Obama's victory last night and the defeat of Prop 8 have caused me to be, what a Jewish colleague calls, verkempt. That is, emotional, bleary-eyed, heaving a few deep sighs. I can´t help but think about folks of mixed-race like me and my Grandfather, who lived in a time when such things as an African-American president, and an openly gay grandson were unimaginable, let alone impossible.
So it was that when we went to the acceptance speech party last night at the Radison Hotel, I was thinking about my Grandfather, the suffering, the fear, the shame of self and his past... and felt it evaporate in the waves of hugs, dancing, laughter, and smiles from people I didn't even know.
Today is indeed a good day. So today, I extend my congrats to all African-American Grandfathers everywhere, and to all their grandsons who continue to work for equity and what is fair and right.