Every single day I am reminded that I am a minority in this country. Everyday I am constantly told that my rights are not equal to every one else’s because of my race and sexuality. Every day I have to encounter a racist joke and homophobic slur and almost every day I hold my composure. I’m respectful to the opposition even when they often do not extend me the same courtesy. Most days I’m very stoic and relentless in my resolve against conflict and strife. And on some days like today it is just so overwhelming that I want to cry.
Sometimes I do allow myself those moments to let it all out and yell, curse, and have a full out bellowing cry, which is what was going on about a half hour before I started writing this entry. Having so called “friends” call you their “black gay friend” as some term of endearment when it’s really a condemnation is grating and so condescending. And whenever I hear it, a barrage of emotions hit me like I’m a possession instead of a person, that I’m not human, abnormal, or somehow less than. Add that to normal every day racism/homophobia from politicians, irate radio hosts, and religious zealots, today left me emotionally overwhelmed. Angry. Hurt. When moments like these happen I have to remind myself of the next moment that’s left after hope is the only thing there.
I talk about hope constantly. Relentlessly. I’m sure some may say, annoyingly. But I believe in the ideal, the philosophy of hope. The best way I can explain it is that when all else is lost it is the only thing left. Look at Pandora’s Box, or The Audacity of Hope from President Obama. It’s just when I’ve hit my absolute rock bottom hope gets me to the next moment. Maybe it’ll be the moment I’ve been waiting for my entire life or more of the same but as long as I’m existing it gets me to progress and to move forward. To move forward to equality so that the next generation doesn’t have to vent out their anguish and pain late at night on a blog.
My mind begins to wander about where we are in our fight for equality. The progress made along with how far we need to go as we fight against the inequities disguised as religious martyrdom and political maneuvering. It’s daunting to attempt to describe that fast changing environment. Successes and failures in the advancement of equal rights for gays and lesbians to marry as well as have protection against discrimination in the workplace and laws in place to protect us from hate crimes. There’s 6 states that allow same sex marriage. And a close to a dozen that allow civil unions with several other states voting on this issue this election year. We have to remain vigilant against the conservative right that continually use things like DOMA to oppose marriage equality. We also have to be concerned with issues like EDNA and ensuring LGBTQ aren’t discriminated against in the workplace. And as I think about how far we are with this fight for equality I can’t help but think of those who’ve fought before us.
I think of my parents in moments when I feel like this. Knowing that to an extent they’ve experienced persecution because of skin color they have such a powerful insight. My parents grew up in a time where segregation was not only legal, it was reviled as the accepted behavior of the majority, especially in the south. It was legal to prevent a Caucasian and African American as well as any other different raced couples to marry. To get a job, go to a store, even buy food was a daily obstacle and a true example of resilience. All because the only color that mattered and had power to fully enjoy the freedoms of our country and be protected by it’s laws was Caucasian. Hate was used as justification even though it was disguised as religious freedom and birthright. Just so much vitriol and hate. Hate is a powerful thing that consumes and what it has in passion or conviction, it also lacks in logic or compassion. I keep reminding myself during these times that history is repeating itself.
When I talk to my parents as well as other African Americans that grew up during that Civil Rights era I hear about threats, vandalism, degradation, beatings, or worse in the pursuit of equality. It always resonates with me so much. The stories mirror each other. We are in the in between. The in between is time in which rights are slowly being won and restored but it’s still an uphill battle. It’s the next step in the Civil Rights Frontier. I won’t ever stop being gay just like my parents, my ancestors, or myself can stop being African American, Native American, Irish, Creole, Jamaican, or Israeli. I love every part of me and who I am without hesitation. Even when exhausted and feeling down on nights like this, I think of the rich history of my ancestors. It motivates me to keep fighting for equality. Their stories talked about the same frustration and anguish that I feel right now. How even when progress was made, they had to dig deep within themselves and let hope nourish them to continue forward and I will do the same.
That’s why I always talk about hope. Always insist upon hope even when it seems hopeless. It’s not just about wishing. It’s about determination, willpower, and strength. Because our fight is not just about marriage but also discrimination in the workplace and protection from those that wish to harm us just for being who we are. I hope that in a generation’s time that the pain of my parents generation as well as ours that true equality is no longer an issue of debate. That justice and liberty truly have won out against the prejudices of our ancestors and fellow human beings. That we’ve evolved from using categories to describe ourselves and no longer look for sage meanings to comfort us when we have been oppressed. And that hope is what takes me to the next moment.