Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hope is a big word.

The world was presented with a historic moment last night: Barack Obama was elected to be the 44th president of the United States. As he stood on a Chicago stage, messages of hope and change dribbled from his mouth. Around me, at the LGBT Community Center in New York City, messages of equality and openness and willingness to adjust frames of mind dribbled from the hundreds of folks who sat and watched the poll returns.

For human rights, and women’s rights, and immigration rights, and the plethora of issues that now sit on the White House doorstep, waiting to come inside and be picked apart by a competent administration, this is a victory. Change will come, that is a given, but what it will look is still a mystery.

I floated through my dreams last night, as I thought about the 21-months of debates leading up to this point. I was content and nervous because sometimes simply uttering the word hope brings forth unrealistic expectations of acceptance, of positive energy and (in this country) the idea that a quick-fix, band-aid approach will happen the day Obama is inaugurated in early January. We don’t need any more of that. Quick fixes don’t heal; they create a sort of skin over the wound, but never stitch up cuts that are actually quite deep.

Coffee in hand this morning, I see that California’s Proposition 8 – which sets to overturn a Supreme Court decision to ban same-sex marriages in the great west coast state – was approved. And while I am not necessarily a proponent of marriage in the way that it sets a hierarchy of who is a REAL couple and who is not, my heart dropped as I read the L.A. Times. Similar bans were passed in Florida, Arkansas and Arizona -- with the emphasis on banning fostering/adopting young people if one is not married (and if queer folks are banned from this human right, then being a caregiver for a person in need is also not an option). Last night we talked about hope and equality, but this morning I question who that equality is really for? Does it stop at sexual orientation? Does it stop at gender manifestations? Does it stop at the gates of the prison? Where does this line begin and end?

On the one hand, the country is ready to accept the challenges of being a community, a democracy; and on the other hand the country is still turning their backs, and dictating the desire for assimilation. Continuing to fight for real and true individual freedom? “Yes we can.”