Tonight as the sun sets on a rainy afternoon, neighborhood children released from the captivity of some fearsome rec room run screaming in a sopping backyard. Under the canopy of tall oaks and maples, sounds echoes, amplified, distorted. What sounds like a rampaging mob may be two enthusiastic Marco! Polo! players, but whatever it is, it’s nearly over as bedtime approaches. I’ve been having that dream again in which I’m chained to the stake and the flames are rising, so I hope they sleep well. Someone should, but I keep getting up for little glasses of water.
Yesterday’s brief issued by the Department of Justice defending the Defense of Marriage Act knocked the wind out of me. It was plain during the long campaign that Candidate Obama was a corporate centrist, which while better than the alternatives was miles to my right. I didn’t have high hopes for progress, but I hoped we wouldn’t lose a lot of ground. Unfortunately, a whole lot of President Obama’s supporters have discovered since 1.20.09 – I have the t-shirt and everything – that their groups’ love wasn’t returned. Some of these groups overlap, but if you happened to be a phone-tapped pot-smoking union anti-war mortgage-holding uninsured olive-skinned pregnant lesbian with credit card debt, man, you are shit out of luck. But who among us is not?
As light fades under the trees, the echoes yield to the sounds of rain dripping from rooftops onto pitted concrete. It’s quiet, but quiet has layers. Traffic on the highway on the other side of the river rumbles but this sound is neutral and somehow unlike noise. The Defense of Marriage Act clearly defines GLBT people as second class citizens, and I cannot make this work in my tiny brain. So many words, so much talk, so little compassion and the result is that some people diminish the lives of other people for no reason and in ways they refuse to apprehend. It is difficult to ponder the psyche that actively seeks to harm, but this we must, over and over. The thing that is most puzzling about this oppression is that in the putting down no one is raised up. No one’s life is improved when GBLT cannot comfort one another in hospitals. No one’s marriage is strengthened when GLBT people cannot marry. No children live better lives because GLBT people cannot adopt them. No one benefits. We allow all this love to slip through our hands is because it’s easier to stick our fingers in our ears when people suffer than to embrace them.
Once, I was sitting in the fenced-in cafe of a girl bar in Asbury Park on a sunny day with my lover, my live-in boyfriend, a woman I sometimes cozied up with and our friends. That was quite a weekend. I spent a lot of it sticky. As the long rays of afternoon light combined with the beer and no particular need to go anywhere or do anything, bottles sailed over the wall and crashed at our feet. It wasn’t the first time, and certainly not the last as the neighborhood, once gay-friendly and quiet, was changing. Nothing really happened, you see. No one was injured, but if someone had been, no one stood to gain.
Even now, so much is lost you have to wonder why.