I am a sucker for movies. Good movies touch me for days and I am left with weeks of an aftertaste that haunt me. When I was 14 years old I spent a month depressed over the death of the people aboard Titanic, Kill Bill left me with an eagerness to learn Japanese and martial arts, Ratatouille made me want to be a chef instead of a writer, and I think my family it’s still trying to forget that summer I saw Gone with the Wind and walked around talking like Scarlett O’Hara (it wasn't pretty).
Milk was a movie that made me feel even more than usual because the issue it’s so close to my heart. I have plenty of out and closeted gay friends and family members and there is nothing than incenses me more than people with no “tolerance” for homosexuality. I am not even comfortable with the word “tolerance” since the dictionary defines it as “capacity for endurance or the act of allowing something”. Homosexuality shouldn’t be something to endure or allow to happen by those of us who are heterosexual. The same way heterosexuality isn’t “tolerated” but simply accepted as a natural thing homosexuality should be.
When Maine voted “Yes” last week for Prop-1 I wasn’t angry (okay I was) but more than anything I was sad. I was sad because I thought we were moving forward and then something like this happens and the disappointment feels so bitter. It wasn’t as disappointing as Prop-8 in California was but it was a disappointment anyway. I want this country that it’s my home now to be as good as it can possibly be. Some people might argue that since I am an immigrant only I have no right to want to change it and should be happy that I am allowed to be here, count my blessings and shut the fuck up. And to them I say that I left my country without a battle, I left it without ever having the chance to fight to make it better. This is my second chance now to make the place live in a place I respect, love and I’m proud to call home.
After seeing Milk yesterday I realized that I am, all of us are incredibly lucky to be here in the U.S and even though the battle seems impossible and loses like the one in Maine and California earlier this year makes us despair, I am now filled with a new sense of hope. Hope that no matter how many steps we take in the wrong direction what is right and what should be will one way or another prevail. Because we have seen it happen time and time again here.
Only 145 years ago white people thought that black people were property, that they were inferior beings, that five blacks amounted to one whole being, that a few of them could only come close to the value of a one white person. Only 62 years ago we women weren’t considered smart enough to vote. Our opinions weren’t as valid as those of men.
One person in my acquaintance who for religious reasons does not support, condone or accept homosexuality as anything but a sin, told me he didn’t understand why the cause was so important to me, why I cared. He said that the “issue” should be battled by homosexuals only and that the rest of us shouldn’t take sides.
What if only Black people fought for their rights back before abolition? What if those uninvolved didn’t care and didn’t fight. Justice has no color, or gender, no religion, or sexual "preference" (another word I have a problem with since homosexuality is neither a choice, nor an inclination or a preference). What if we sat back and never fought for what was right except when what is right directly affect us? How can we sit back and ignore the rights of others? What if they were our rights? Wouldn’t we want others to fight along with us?
I understand the problem people have with homosexuality. I understand that some people are repelled by the idea of homosexual sex. That some people think of the act as only anal sex, penetration, fucking, and fornication, a dirty and unnatural deed. But most of them have no problem with lesbian sex. The double standard is galling! What I don’t understand is what they think is important to keep marriage as a union between a man and a woman. They are worried about the corruption of the sanctity of marriage. As my favorite blogger (who happens to be a flaming gay guy) would say "Bitch please!" People don’t respect the “sanctity” of marriage anymore regardless if they are gay or straight so why deny a group of individuals the right that other of us have? Who are we to decide who gets married and who doesn’t? The church has the right to deny marrying a man with another and a woman with another woman, but the state should protect, deliver and offer each and every right, benefit and opportunity to every single one of the people that reside in it regardless of how some people feel about how others live their life.
The banner for Maine’s Prop-1 is disturbingly obvious in its attempt to convey a need to protect the American Family. Protect them from what exactly? I am not sure. I am incredibly annoyed by the faces of the couple with the two kids who smile beneath the lines “Stand for Marriage”. I am annoyed because they don’t get it. We stand for marriage, those of us who believe is everyone’s right to make the unrealistic and hallow promise of loving someone until death. We stand for a marriage that should include all and exclude none. Some go as far as to say the term “marriage” is taken so they should find their own. I don't even want to touch that one because this post will never end.
As upset as I am for Prop-1 passing I am filled with the sense of wonder the movie left in me. Against all odds, when faced against shameless bigotry and narrow values, victory was theirs. How the movie ended is meaningless. I am not saying that the death of Harvey Milk was meaningless, what I am saying is that the death of a man who didn’t sit, didn’t conform and didn’t rest, couldn’t stop progress from occurring and makes me see Maine as nothing more but a stumble on our way to victory.
America is brave, because when people everywhere were still hiding their homosexuality, here in the U.S. they were fighting for what is right. Back at home indifference is a disease that helps us in some cases and works against us in others. I don’t see the kind of progress happening here happening any time soon back at home because nobody cares. Because even the ones affected don’t care and maybe because they are all afraid of what might happen. People here are never afraid it seems. They shout, they march, they speak up, they fight for the rights that are theirs and I am so eager to do the same.
So bravo U.S. for fighting the good fight for so long. I know we want to despair and want to give into the hopelessness of another failed battle. But there is nothing else to do but fight and nowhere else to go but up. President Obama signed the Matthew Sheppard act into law just a few weeks ago and with the flick of a pen made a move that now protects the LGBT community from hate crimes against them. It is not a shield against bigotry. It won’t protect them from name calling, humiliations or even physical blows but it will protect other young Matthews from being killed and hung from a fence from having their death treated as any other crime, it will make the perpetrators pay a harsher sentence.
So, Maine enjoy your victory while you have it. Wallow in the mean spirited joy of having taken someone’s right away from them. In 50 years when the country in its entirety defines marriage as the union between two consenting adults you will be seen by the future the same way we see now those who thought themselves above a Black person.
The future is coming, equality is here, move along or get out of the way.