GO Equality California!

One of the biggest and most painful complaints levied against the No On Prop 8 campaign is that the campaign failed to use images of real gay people and their families in the official ads.

As sad as Prop 8’s passage was, what a sea-change there’s been since then. After so much pain and real harm by its passage, we’ve had a national dialog like never before. With now five states on the side of marriage equality, “the arc of  moral history” appears to continue to bend towards justice — even as we speak.

And we’ve learned — a lot.  And shared — a lot.  Equality California, in a major evolution in campaign messaging, has just announced that they are featuring *real live gay people* and their families in their newest ads.  They listened and they got it.

Thank you Equality California, and come on everyone: Take a look at last. Don’t be afraid to find out there’s more in common between “your lifestyle” and “my lifestyle” than you might have thought.

Read more about Equality California’s campaign at http://www.eqca.org/winmarriageback.

Hope alone

“Dan White Hero”

Originally uploaded by cawins

I was in the NCLR overflow room helping to Twitter about the oral argument challenging Prop 8 on Thursday. I have some thoughts about online vs. offline activism and the socialization of the court that are far from fully developed and I’ll save for later, but first I wanted to do my little part to spread my current delusion.

My friends, champions who have been working around the clock for marriage rights for all, are tired and disappointed that the situation does not look good for actually overturning Proposition 8. I know that’s the general consensus. I was thrown into a dark place when I had to step around “Yes on 8” people when I took my daughter to school. That was a bad day, and I know hate features much more than hope in the word-cloud surrounding the event. And thanks to cawins for Flickring the picture on this post and to Dianna for blogging more of the reality of these truly disturbing images.

But I am hopeful …? I must be delusional, naive, and sick.

Probably all that, and this: Because Tony Wilson said this to me on my way to the oral argument Thursday morning:

@moyalynne Saw the marches this morning and it makes me proud to know you. You’re making the future better for our sons & daughters. GO!!

Because Kate Kendell said this:

My kids understand, sometimes even better than I do, what’s real in life and what really matters. We have to reflect that hope back to them, and the belief in what is ultimately possible.

And because I only know these wonderful people and so many more because of this fight — in the first place.

Today I choose hope over hatred or hurt exactly because this choice matters — words matter — and you don’t need to be on one side or another to know that. I will probably need you to remind me of this tomorrow or the next day and maybe the next and particularly on that day sometime within 88 days from now, when the court rules. But not today — today I feel the tiny pinprick to my heart, the very tip of the long tail, wagging the dog.

And because in the end, I was there at the doors of the Supreme Court that day last year on which they decided that words *do* matter, and for a few (all-too-short) months, everybody knew exactly what that meant. Let me fight for my life when I start to forget this again. And I will forget – but at this moment I think that if I look, you will be there for me.

PS: To support hope, consider a gift: http://bit.ly/SupportNCLR

Telling Three: “Passion Unites”

San Francisco CA 2004 (#1)

San Francisco CA 2004 (#1)

Today is a bright day in the Bay Area and as we emerge, gradually, into the sun my “loss” mood — sort of — disperses. I got a great email this morning from an old colleague that also helped me feel bright, and I wanted to share it.

Knowing of my involvement in the No On Prop 8 campaign, she, like many of my friends, wanted to personally contact me after watching the deeply moving Courgage Campaign video, Fidelity.  In addition to Fidelity, there’s another parallel initiative happening right now that puts a face on the current affairs of marriage equality: Tell3 — the “pledge to Tell3 people what it’s like for you or your loved ones to be LGBT.” The exchange with my colleague made me think of Tell3.

Particularly at work, coming out — as the only “whatever you are in the room” — can be a scary business. In my job, I work day-to-day with people from all around the world, including places where you could be jailed, or worse, for being gay. I remember that day almost exactly five years ago, when Leanne and I were married at City Hall, and how bubbly and yet awkward I felt when I came back to work after the weekend. I was practically tumbling all over the place that Monday, not able to contain anything about my weekend yet finding myself within the curious confines of a conference room with my team, every single one of whom spoke a different native language than I. Many teammates were surprised when I told them I was married over the weekend. Most were, at a minimum, highly confused or even thought I must have been joking. One told me that I was “brave” — which to this day I still wonder about. How was I brave? I could not say that any one of them was less than supportive, but the moments were not easy.

But every once in awhile I’m reminded of why the clumsy business of just being who I am — this “coming out” — continues to be the brightest, most worthwhile endeavor in my life. That’s how I felt this morning when I read Darlene’s mail:

Michael and I both cried (no laughing!) when we saw the slideshow, and then we signed it (of course) and forwarded it to friends and family members. Oddly enough we’d received it from our old Realtor in Dallas that we hadn’t spoken to in years. What’s so inspiring about that is how passion unites people….even from afar…..and even from those that are not directly involved. If only the world functioned like that for everything we do!

Did I mention that I have THE BESTEST Hubby in the whole world? I thought about it a lot. and I truly cannot imagine how it would feel if state could revoke our marriage. Putting all emotion aside, there’s just no logical/legal justification for the state to reverse/dissolve marriages (of any kind). IMHO, it appears that it’s a purely subjective stance that’s been taken and I don’t see how it could be reversed. Taking a step backward is just too risky for California (known to be trailblazers) and I don’t believe it will happen. My $.02.

“If only the world functioned like that” indeed. But when you do this — when you reach out and come out and share about WHATEVER it is — it does. And that makes all the difference under the sun… Thank you, Darlene, and everyone else who makes it your business to reach out with your stories.

NCLR: Not business as usual

Waterfall – Courtesy MLK

Originally uploaded by moyalynne

Congratulations to NCLR — National Center for Lesbian Rights — for opening up to the two-way dialog of blogging today, with http://overturn8.nclrights.org/.

Says Kate Kendell in today’s blog entry:

The New Year is off to a great start. After a bit of a breather for some over the holidays, it is clear that our community is not going back to business as usual. We know that 2009 has the potential to be a transformative year—but only with activism, action, involvement and vigilance…

Kendell, who provided part of the management of the No On Prop 8 campaign, has been subject to criticism (much of which online) since November’s heartbreaking passage of the proposition, but it’s clear she’s not just going back into her corner and cowering.

This sounds to me like an organization that has tuned in to the community since the election, listened in, and — here’s the key — responded to change. If Obama’s victory comes from the mantra of “change we can believe in,” “Yes we can” is something you can answer if you really can change. It reminds me of what Charles Darwin was purported to really have said about evolution:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

Don’t get me wrong — NCLR is full of some of the strongest, most intelligent people I know — but I’m impressed with this latest foray into being open to the online conversation. I hope you consider joining in.

“Recovered homophobe” shares his story

Suffice it to say these are among the busiest two weeks of my life — and in many ways, the best. I’m working hard on the California No On Prop 8 Web Strategy team. These days, I encounter stories of unbelievable courage and strength as an everyday matter of course. People are working in constant overtime to get the stories out. I work with a great diversity of beautiful people crammed together in a noisy space, every one of us working without pause, very hard. And my bride Leanne worked heroically today in the middle of a way-too-busy day to get out a post about the seemingly amazing superhero powers endowed to us, by virtue of our recent wedding, by the proponents of Prop 8. Then I come home to a story of how my parents returned from a trip to see No On Prop 8 signs — in Vacaville! — and are eager to let me know.

And then, from people I don’t even know, amazing stories hit me every day during this campaign — some are shocking and some are intensely saddening, but most inspire me — and some truly warm my heart. I have been privileged to share some deeply personal stories.

Last Saturday, Tweeter @arwilson sent the following in response to a Twitter-based request from @NoOnProp8 to share what people were doing to defeat the proposition:

I’m making it a deal-breaker with my acquaintances

Intrigued, I wrote back and commended this person for a brave stand. He wrote back:

I’m a recovered homophobe (20+ years!) and I know what worked to help me overcome it.

recovered homophobe @arwilson

recovered homophobe @arwilson

What followed was a private conversation by direct message, and soon an in-depth email exchange. He very generously shared his story, and gave me permission to blog about it — so I quote him, Anthony Wilson — below. Tony called it an honor to share his story in case it could help someone somewhere.

We all could be Tony. Honest and brave are the people who challenge themselves beyond prejudice. Far from always successful, in my best days, I aspire to this. Thank you Tony for shedding light on your journey through — and past — this particular fear and prejudice. I ask anyone reading to do an inventory in honor of Tony’s sharing: Is there a bit of his story that resonates with you?

My mentor’s name was Del. When I was about 16, he and his wife took me under their wing. Through them I met lots of interesting people who were so generous to me and encouraged me to be my own person. I was very eccentric and was called a fag more than once. I couldn’t afford trendy clothes, so I “borrowed” old clothes from the drama department. Today I would have been called a cool Rockabilly kid, but at the time I was considered a freak, so I took the easy route and gave it as good as I got it. Shit rolls downhill, and I lashed out at anybody who seemed more vulnerable than me. Del was doing my makeup before a play (the irony was lost on me at the time) and I had mentioned something about “dumb fags.” He didn’t judge or condemn me, but he just asked me why I had such a problem with them. He mentioned that a lot of my friends that I had met through his wife and him were gay and that I liked them. He kept asking “why?” and I didn’t have an explanation. I then realized that my response to people treating me poorly because I insisted on being myself was to harass others who were trying to be themselves. I was helping out the wrong people. It was OK that I knew gay people, and I should be allowed to do so. I guess I thought that people would think I was gay if I had gay friends. I soon realized that I didn’t care what people thought. My parents had never condemned anybody, so I really had no excuse.

Del was a closeted gay man and fell victim to the first wave of “gay cancer” in the 80s. Even after I realized what was going on, his wife was in denial. After suffering massive medical costs and the condemnation of his family, he passed away. This had a profound affect on me, and I realized that homophobia was partly responsible for his death. If he could have lived the way he wanted, things might have worked out differently. Homophobia is responsible for so many of the world’s problems if you think about it. How many wars, how many violent crimes, how many people are denied their right to happiness by people who have some weird agenda. This epiphany taught me the true meaning of homophobia – as we all have seen in the last few years, the more you condemn it, the better the chances that you are doing it.

I can’t tell you how liberating it is to not give a shit what people do with their lives. It’s none of my business. Well, it was none of my business, but I want to do what I can to help anybody who needs it. I have lost friends to AIDS, I have seen friends denied rights because they were not legally recognized as partners; when a friend’s
partner was in a coma dying in the hospital, his partner’s parents would not let him visit. My wife and I have closeted and openly gay members of our family – I have gay friends who have been with their partners longer than I have been with my wife. They’re here and they’re queer and I got used to it! We live in Orange County, so it’s not the most open-minded place, but our daughters have been raised to understand that homosexuality is a non-issue. As a junior high teacher, I see kids who were like me, and I remember how Del approached it. Because of him, I am who I am today, and I want others to have that same choice.