The past few weeks have been really eye-opening for me.
It started with Prop 8, of course. I'd had a bad feeling that Prop 8 was going to pass, but I didn't expect it to leave me feeling awful and angry and crying.
Realization: Getting your civil rights voted away by people who don't realize just how hateful and ignorant they're being, and who reduce your lives and families and dreams to a political catchphrase, feels sort of like getting kicked in the stomach repeatedly.
At the Prop 8 comment thread over at Shakesville, everyone was hurt and bitter and angry and quite possibly hung over after Election Night festivities. And then there was this comment:
"Its not about hate. Its never been about hate. [sic] I don't like cigarette smoke, but that doesn't mean I hate smokers."
As I was reading the thread, that stopped me in my tracks.
In the midst of all that angst and disappointment, some "loving" person thought there was nothing wrong with comparing the lives of thousands of people, probably including some of her own family and friends, to second-hand smoke. And that was one of the nicer comments.
In the interest of full disclosure: I live in a happy, bigotry-free bubble. I've mentioned on multiple occasions how proud my school makes me, for being such a safe space for gay students. I really have never felt like someone could hate me just because I'm dating a girl.
The realization that there were really so many people out there who really hate gays and lesbians, and that my life and my relationship meant nothing to them but something bad to yell out, felt like the sky was falling.
So the other day I was flipping through my facebook page, editing some things, and my eye fell on the part where it says "Interested in: Women," which is a fairly recent development because for a while I was afraid to be out on facebook.
And I had to pause to think about it, because I thought for a second that that couldn't be right, because that's not normal. And if I'm not normal, than it means my typical high school relationship, with all the usual fluff and angst, is something political and weird. It means that if my girlfriend does what she wants to and joins ROTC, I could lose her her scholarship and her job. It means that when I wore my rainbow Obama button in Manassas, I had to find myself fending awkward, uncomfortable looks. It means that when I go to get a job in my home state, an employer could refuse to hire me just because I like girls, and once I finally get out in the real world and go to buy a house I could be evicted if my landlord doesn't like gay people. It means I have to defend my civil rights in class debates, and listen to people in the hallways saying "that's so gay" to everything they think is stupid.
It means that every time I look at a college I want to apply to, I have to check to make sure it's gay-friendly. It occurred to me recently that that's something I look for, subconsciously if not overtly. I was relieved when I visited one of my top-choice colleges this weekend and saw that there were plenty of out, happy gay students.
That's not normal, right?
When I was at the college, my hostesses took me to see a performance by a tour called Second Class Citizens. It was a spoken word poet and a folk singer, both lesbians, who had stopped to do a show on campus that night.
It hit me, halfway through one of the songs, that I'd never heard a love song about two women before. I bought her CD, just so I would have a break from a culture that tells me, in every movie and romance novel and song on the radio, that I'm not normal.
So yeah, my happy gay bubble has been burst. And yeah, I could end on an optimistic note and say that now's the time to fight back, and go to protests, and make a fuss, and hope that maybe someday all the assholes will change their minds and start looking at us like human beings.
But really, it just sucks that my life and relationship is a political issue.
Despite my double-take, Facebook wasn't wrong when it said I like women. And that's okay, and I have to keep living like it's okay, and normal, and not bad or weird or wrong, and hope that eventually maybe it actually will be. But I think, despite how easily the whole coming-out thing was for me, I'm still learning how to do that.