The average New York City cop hanging out in Queens is a straight, simple man. He's all right with an action movie, doesn't drink anything more sophisticated than a domestic bottled beer, and is perfectly fine to just hang in with the wife, kids, or girlfriend with an easy pasta and chicken dinner. Catch him out with his buddies, and he'll probably put on a couple exaggerated airs over how he would never do anything totally gay, like karaoke sessions or salsa-dancing lessons.
But, ask him which holiday parade he likes working most, and the jokes stop there. He'll automatically answer it's the annual Gay Pride Parade. Not Thanksgiving Day; there are too many shopaholic hordes just dying to hit Macy's afterwards. And no, it isn't St. Patrick's Day, not when he has to watch out for inebriated lads possibly sliding into puddles of their own puke. His favorite parade to work is Gay Pride. It's joyful. It's celebratory. Compared to the others, it has the lowest amount of fights. On that noisy, rainbow day, his job is a breather— even kind of fun. And he appreciates it.
So, if an easygoing, law-abiding guy from New York understands the positive pulse of gay culture, why can't California?
Regrettably, I have no certain answers. As a native Bay Area babe, I'm surprised at California's opposition to gay marriage. Given Harvey Milk's legacy, I always took it for granted that my seemingly liberal, relaxed, and accepting California would never restrict what gay men and women could do. Given New Hampshire's and Iowa's progress in legalizing gay marriage, saying the Golden State is afflicted with Fear of a Gay Planet is now justified.
However, perhaps I never saw the opposition coming because I never suspected it. I was a suburban girl near a big city. Given my twenty-minute proximity to San Francisco and larger interest in Humboldt County greenery, I've never even remotely sensed the fear towards homosexuality. In being at ease around gay men and women all my life, I never remotely knew that I was supposed to be against them. What is woefully apparent to me now is that beyond San Francisco and Los Angeles are a bunch of smaller towns that carry a warlike, fundamental spirit towards gay men and women. "The Grapes of Wrath" seem to have filtered into a collective "The Gays Cause Wrath" consciousness. It is appalling, yet something to understand. Especially in order to take apart.
Much has been made over the word "marriage." Proposition 8 advocates argue that gay men and women should just swallow the concept of a civil union as their kind of marriage, especially since the M-word is only acceptable between heterosexual men and women. Even fashionable naysayers like the former Miss California jump on the bandwagon, proclaiming the impropriety of gay marriage while jiggling for judges. What they don't seem to understand (or deliberately ignore) is that marriage has always been intended for all people to unite in property and spirit. With the context of Christian compassion in mind, it was never intended to be a segregation game. Nor should it carry the same kind of their that told Rosa Parks to know her proper place at the back of a bus.
And, had Carrie Prejean actually said as much for her World Peace answer, maybe the Donald wouldn't have fired her. And I could maintain some fiction that the girl is smart.
But, thankfully, she doesn't matter. Nor do the hisses of possible homosexual "contamination"; I still have no idea what that is, and never will. The real heart of gay culture lies in celebrating one's life and identity with a whole lot of love, without fear or ignorance, and in some cases, a set of leather shorts with annual tickets to the Tonys. In spite of the insidious legalese of Proposition 8, gay men and women can take it to their hearts that their culture is moving on up from subjugation. Like rainbows, they can transcend and shine, even at the most unexpected of times and in the struggle for complete mainstream acceptance.
And, this month, they can especially celebrate who they are with Pride. Everyone across the country should check out their Gay Pride parades in their cities; heck, for once, I'm even going to agree with a cop from Queens. It'll be a day to drink, dance, and most likely drink a little more. It'll be fun, and I appreciate it.
But, for California, it really is a question of Pride. Perhaps by celebrating the love at the heart of their culture just a little stronger than usual, West Coast gay men and women can remember how beautiful they are, and remind the rest of us that their wedding days should be here along with our own.
An expert in coloring outside the lines while reading between them, Alex B has a head for business, bod for sin, and weakness for ice cream during all seasons. Apart from watching Bravo marathons and enjoying haute bites here and there, she writes about TV, pop culture, and coloring outside even more lines. She sneaks Tweets via @lexistential.
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6.15.09 @ 7:52a
Once again I could just hug your pretty little self!
6.15.09 @ 7:58a
I tossed candy in the DSM Pride parade yesterday with my company. Great day, many smiling faces, terrific music - and also many "Just Married" signs. It was wonderful.
6.15.09 @ 12:47p
Great article. It's easy to think that the outcome of Prop 8 is weird if you live in LA and SF. However, the rest of the state is not as forward-thinking. The other surprise for me was the negative attitudes of the Black community (churches were against gay marriage) and of the Hispanic (heavily Catholic) community. I guess if I had thought more about it the attitudes would not have surprised me.
My hope is that change will come sooner than later in the state of my birth!
6.15.09 @ 3:57p
Sandra, thank you!
Ellen, being from the SF Bay Area, I had assumed Prop 8 would be shot down. But, with the benefit of hindsight, unfortunately we can all see how it came to be passed. And now that we understand as much, hopefully we can address the fear in those communities. Especially so it can be shot down.
Tracey, I was at the Gay Pride parade a few years ago with my boys. We drank, danced, and waved at the "Queer Eye For the Straight Guy" cast and had a great time. I was a proud homo-booster then, and I still am now. And I bet those "Just Married" signs were a kick! I look forward to seeing 'em in NY, and in CA by 2010.
6.15.09 @ 4:03p
Hailing from San Mateo Co., not too far from the city either, I was never really aware that one's sexuality made any difference. Not in a naive way, it just wasn't how I was raised nor was it really part of my demographic culture. I was very surprised on the Prop 8 vote.
That being said, I think we need to be careful labeling those who voted against it as having a "warlike fundamental spirit towards gay men and women". However misguided I-we-you may feel the opposers were in their decision doesn't make them "warlike" in my opinion.
6.15.09 @ 6:09p
Hi Sloan! I'm from San Mateo County, too- a BHS alumni, no less.
I chose the word "warlike" because I believe there's a very strong belligerence against gay men and women, especially in highly conservative religious communities. It's the kind of feeling that's masked under most polite interactions, but a potent emotion nonetheless. That side is determined to support Prop 8; there may not be a physical brawl going on, but there is a fight going on over what's appropriate, and they're willing to do it.
6.15.09 @ 8:45p
I recently marched in the Asbury Park Pride Parade with the Pride Center of New Jersey, and am planning on marching again on June 28th with them in the NYC Pride Parade. What surprised me so much about Asbury Park was how much the people along the parade route looked forward to the event. It was a great day with the feeling of unity and community.
I was disappointed with Prop 8, but also happy with Iowa, New Hampshire, and the other states that have opened up to acceptance of the fact all men (and women) are created equal and deserve the same rights and respect. On the other hand, I'm single, not in a realtionship of any kind, and am constantly reminded by one of my divorced and slightly bitter straight friends that marriage opens up the possibility of giving up half of everything you own to someone you eventually never want to see again.
6.15.09 @ 8:58p
I'm in total agreement with your last comment-- it really is a strong, albeit subtle belligerence that I think most people didn't fully appreciate until the issue took front-and-center stage and Californians proved to be divided virtually fifty-fifty. Most, I suspect, had never really thought much on the issue until a Ballot measure forced them to, in the context of what everyone knew would be a groundbreaking election in any event.
And the fight will continue, with pitches to this Country's increasingly progressive yet traditionally conservative and slow-moving high courts. Don't hold your breath for immediate change, folks. (An example: white-on-black racism had/has been a reality in this Country since virtually its inception. The Supreme Court nevertheless waited until 1954 to decry school segregation as "de jure discrimination," after endorsing the same actions as permissible sixty years earlier. Out-of-the-closet homosexuality is a little more new to the scene, especially outside of CA and NY.)
History tells us that it takes a long time to convince people of change where they don't want to be....a "long time" being time enough for the radicals on one side or another to die off, it seems. In the meantime, the issue will remain sharply divided at least in my hometown. Incredibly. And we're not just talking about "us" and "them." I'm seeing plenty of "with us" or "with them" sentiment as well-- which, again, forces even the most aloof to take a defensive stance.
6.15.09 @ 10:36p
Robert, my friend Clint brought up similar sentiments to yours. In light of how ugly divorce can get, gay marriage doesn't really seem that desirable. He also said there are ways of stepping around it, such as by adopting your partner, just so that in the event of death, there is a legal means for one partner to take care of the other.
Spence, given the mindset of the courts as you describe them, perhaps it is too optimistic to hope that Prop 8 will be taken apart by 2010. It's so sad to see that it takes so long to declare something as "de jure discrimination." Maybe it is a question of one generation passing away before legal change occurs, but let's hope it happens sooner than that.
And like you, I'm astounded at the belligerence towards gay marriage. It's still strange to see such a sharp, black-and-white, "with us or against us" mindset in California. But again, the only thing we can keep doing is advocating gay marriage in spite of it. In big ways and small, we can keep making our efforts count for something. (And, we can respectively party at our Parades).
6.16.09 @ 12:17a
Alex, the legal root of adoption has the ick vibe because it does sort of turn the "marriage" into incest. I personally still believe that marriage should simply be a legal contract and take the religious connotations out of it. If you're married in your mind that's all that matters. Every person who cheats on a spouse has their personal definition of marriage, so given that marriage is only as important as the personalities involved in the institution we as a society shouldn't put such an importance on it.
6.16.09 @ 12:35a
Robert, I can't help thinking "ick" in regard to adoption as well. It seems like an upside-down thing to resort to because legal marriage isn't available, and it's sad. But for those who have turned to adoption, it seems to fulfill a legal void, one that's gaping because marriage isn't available.
And for those who are satisfied with being married in their minds, then that's all well and good. But for those who would like to commemorate their love and relationship by having a marriage ceremony and the legal right to share property and such, then they deserve it.
6.22.09 @ 5:43p
There's no shortage of clergy or other officiants out this way who are willing to marry a same -sex couple and thereby grant such commemoration of love. An unlicensed same-sex union really seems paltry though against all the benefits and opportunities one gets as a matter of law and right through a State- sanctioned marriage.
Especially since 2000, the shortcomings have really taken center-stage. Recall, the big stink at the turn of the century was that California law did not allow Diane Whipple's same-sex partner to sue for wrongful death following Whipple's mauling death in her apartment complex. (Historically, the right was reserved by statute to family and spouse-- implying that a same-sex partner did not have a close enough connection to the victim to be granted a claim.)