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.

E pur si muove!

And yet it moves!

Galileo’s Telescope and some history – “The Instrument that Changed the World”

Had a quick conversation with Ellen via Twitter this morning about telescopes, since she’s shopping for one with her 7-year-old. Leaving aside all the tangents I want to travel right now, like about how I cried the first time I saw the Moon in a telescope, it occurs to me that Galileo’s telescope was one of the most disruptive technologies ever created. (And we think the Internet changed things!)

He created this thing — the telescope — and then observed, carefully, the spots on the sun. And then he knew from what he saw that the Earth indeed moves — and is not flat.

That caused such a ruckus that he was forced to recant it lest the Heavens fall straight out of the sky. He did recant, and yet was still deemed so dangerous that he remained under house-arrest till his death. (And it took us centuries to pardon him, by the way.)

And so we created this thing — the printing press (thanks @chadmaglaque), the Internet, mobile devices — and we observe. And we let people know. Your notions of the news, of human rights, of relationships and of family and of marriage are changing. And it causes a ruckus. And one day, maybe centuries from now, truth wins.

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.

And you, and you, and you: The heroes of No On Prop 8

Much has been written and discussed since November 4, 2008 in the attempt to sort out why our efforts in California against Proposition 8 failed to actually beat the proposition. We should of course study hard and learn from mistakes, and above all move forward with this momentum. But what continues to impress me the most is the collective spirit of giving — of all of your stories — that has taken place as a result of this profound effort. I devoted myself for an all-too-short time to the No On Prop 8 campaign (big thanks to my friend Calla Devlin for that opportunity), and for the record, I am honored to have been a part of it. I believe it has forever changed me in ways I’m not even fully aware of yet. Every one of you who played a part in sharing your stories during the campaign — you have affected me deeply. And you still do.

No On Prop 8 on Facebook

No On Prop 8 on Facebook

Anthony shared how he was a “recovered homophobe” — and how he overcame it. Eric twittered about being alone with a sign down in Los Angeles. A Mormon woman from California reached out, against the formal advice of her community, to say I cannot in mercy vote to destroy the legal protections they now enjoy. Entire families worked on the hard conversations, overcame fear, attended weddings, and wrote about it to others. People sold out the signs and rallied by the thousands. People of any persuasion stepped up for the right thing, to vote no on Prop 8. Steven, a straight man from Utah, stood by us faithfully in support. And every day, Abby sent us a personal dose of encouragement and cheer via Twitter. Those are just a few stories, off the top of my head, and are all YOU. T’was the season of personal giving — and it still is.

No On Prop 8 on Twitter

No On Prop 8 on Twitter

You continue to share your stories in person, on the streets thanks to Join the Impact, and on various social networks: over 172,000 of you on Facebook, 3,200 of you on Twitter, 4,500 on MySpace, and 300 on LinkedIn — which is not to mention the tens of thousands of views on a YouTube channel that rivaled Obama’s in popularity in the days leading up to the election (with — in a first for any political campaign in this country — YOU submitting stories for the official channel) – and the countless blogs and blog comments. I salute YOU.

That’s the real story here: YOU and who you ARE. If you haven’t already noticed, you’re making a big difference, continuing to reinforce that “the lines between what is a blog and what is a mainstream media site become less clear.” (People who work in the courts, by the way — they have the Internet, and they know how to use it.)

No On Prop 8 on LinkedIn

No On Prop 8 on LinkedIn

It is with that spirit that I’m impressed with the organizations involved in the campaign that are striving to bridge the gap between traditional and new media, with the ultimate goal of giving us all a place to be. Check out this page published by the NCLR yesterday:

No longer is it an official press release vs. a blog: it’s just you telling your story. Molly Tafoya recently shared this insight with me: the gift is not to tell people how to feel, but to help people talk about it. To help people share their stories: dare I say that this is the entire point?

Just at this moment @Pistachio comes in, as she is wont to do, with just the right lyric at just the right moment:

“I’m not being radical when I kiss you. I don’t love you to make a point. It’s the hollow of my heart that cries when I miss you.”

“Love is stronger than any words anyway” (Catie Curtis). Find a channel — any channel — but find a channel and, with your words, your pictures, your videos — share about who you are. Because in the end, the most radical thing to do is just to be — who you are.

On the day before the 30th anniversary of Harvey Milk’s death, I can’t say it a better way than this:

“There’s hope for a better tomorrow… And you, and you, and you have got to give them hope.”

PS: I leave you with one more channel:

“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.