Someday we'll find it,
the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers, and me...
- Kermit the Frog, The Muppet Movie
I have a favorite scarf. It's a rainbow scarf that belonged to my mother, who received it from a friend who bought it while on vacation in South America. It's a long, thick, comfy scarf that I remember being in the house since I was very young. Both my parents would grab it out of the coat closet to wear on cold days. As I got older, I would grab it to wear too, and sometime during college it suddenly, and unceremoniously, became mine, eventually following me when I moved out on my own. It had no significance to me other than it was my mother's scarf. The family scarf.
About two or three years ago, I was on the subway during the winter, and I was wearing this scarf. As I sat reading a book, a seemingly mentally unbalanced man started hitting on me. At first, I smiled politely and thanked him for the compliments the way I usually do in those situations. Most men realize they're getting nowhere with me after a while and move on. This man, however, became increasingly belligerent and vulgar. He was standing directly above me on a crowded rush-hour train, so there was nowhere to go. I continued to read my book and ignore him. Finally, he noticed my scarf and said,
"Oh! It's 'cause you're one of those lesbians, huh?"
Yes. That's exactly why I wasn't returning the advances of a crazy, vulgar stranger with a bulging, shifty eye.
I continued to ignore him, and this just made him angry and more persistent. He went on and on about all the sexual things he was going to do to me in lurid detail. About how the only reason I was a "lesbian" was that I hadn't yet found the right man. As seats cleared up next to me, he sat beside me. I didn't get up.
I didn't move or say anything, because I wasn't going to let this man scare me into altering my behavior. As if he hadn't already made me angry, it made me furious that he was getting more hostile now that he thought I was a lesbian. I was going home from work, reading a book on the train, and I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of making me move. I figured there was a good chance he wouldn't put his hands on me on a train full of people. I could've been wrong, but I took the chance, planning the ways I could take him in a fight if I had to. No one stepped in to defend me or help me either. As his voice got louder and louder saying things like "All a rugmuncher like you needs is a good dick up inside her. I'll put mine in you and it will make you straight," no one came to my rescue. People heard him and turned away. They wouldn't make eye contact with me as I looked up. I was completely on my own with this guy.
Outwardly, I was unfazed. I stared at my book, though I'd stopped actually reading long ago. No matter what this man said, I didn't get angry, nor did I move. I was a block of ice. When the train arrived at my stop - the last stop on the line - I got off the train calmly but quickly, hearing him behind me saying "You don't know what you're missing, bitch! You don't know what you're missing!" I picked up my pace and lost myself in the crowd. I was not followed.
I thought about that incident today as I stood at the rally at City Hall protesting Prop 8, as well as all the other propositions that passed across the country limiting the rights of gays to get married, to adopt children...
My friend, Courtney, who is a Wiccan priestess as well as an ordained reverend in the Universal Life Church, decided to do something powerful today by performing marriage ceremonies for anyone who wanted one in the park, and so I went to help. It was a wonderful day. I spent it holding up a sign outside City Hall Park that said "Stop by and get married today! Marriage Equality for All!" I received more attention standing by myself with the sign than I ever would've gotten in the crowd on the other side of the park where the rally was taking place. I engaged what must have been hundreds of passersby in conversation - some sympathetic to the cause, some not entirely. I received a hug from a gay man who was walking with his long-term partner and was grateful for the help and the gesture. I did a brief interview with a reporter from 1010 WINS and told him not only what I was doing, but why I thought straight people needed to do more to be a part of the movement. There was a bit of hostility during the day, too. One man took a flyer I was handing out and burned through it with his cigarette. "Have a nice day!" I chirped. Another elderly woman wearing an ill-fitting housedress and pulling a wheelie suitcase with a hole in it stopped on the sidewalk to yell at me for being a part of this "one-sided" rally. On the whole, though, there was a good, loving, and determined vibe in the air. I was proud to be there. By the time I left, Courtney had married a gay couple, as well as a straight woman to her gay male best friend. I almost cried during the gay wedding. They left their hands fastened after the ceremony and walked away holding hands with their hands tied together. It was so sweet.
And I wished their marriage could've been legal.
One phrase I kept uttering today was that it's not just about gays. It's about all of us. Of course, it's true in the grand, symbolic sense - "gay is the new Black", as it were. It could be anybody, and we shouldn't stand for discriminatory laws on the books, whether they affect a group we happen to be a part of or not. Whether we believe in what those people are doing, or not. Think what you want about gays getting married. It's not about beliefs, it's about law. It's one thing if a religious group won't allow gay marriage. It's quite another when the law won't. People try to make it about morality - it's wrong for gays to get married - but that's according to whose standard of morality? Christian morality? Jewish? Muslim? Buddhist? Do atheists think it's wrong for gays to get married? Agnostics? Our country contains within it many ideologies and standards of morality. Granted, Christianity is in the majority, but if laws don't apply only to the Christians, they shouldn't be written stemming only from Christian morality. They have to be written for everyone. And why would the greater Human morality - you know, the one where it's generally wrong to murder, lie and steal - entail not letting gays get married when everyone else gets to? Gays are a minority, and their getting married has no effect on heterosexual marriage whatsoever. So, why go out of your way to stop them? It serves no real purpose.
People talk about "civil unions" as an acceptable alternative. Sounds like the "separate but equal" treatment to me.
I can't stand idly by while discriminatory laws sit on the books based solely on the fact that there are people in this country who simply find gays disgusting. Discrimination shouldn't exist in our legal system based solely on the fact that gay love, sex, and marriage make some of our citizens say eeew. As one sign I saw today reminded us: Barack Obama's parents couldn't have gotten married in 16 states in 1967. Once upon a time, people said eeew about interracial marriage, too.
However, it's also about "all of us" in a very literal sense, too. This is a bandwagon on which we should all be jumping. We can't let our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues continue to live in a country where they are considered separate, subhuman. Because it's truly a sad, sad country we live in where even straight people have to think twice about wearing a rainbow scarf or any other rainbow clothing for fear of being harassed - or worse.