Saturday, June 27, 2015

Waiting in Vain

About five years ago, an old school lefty activist I know, who also happens to be a straight, white male, told me that I was being impatient about gay rights, that change took time, and that I would just have to wait for things such as marriage equality to come to pass in America. I replied that, as a straight, white male he didn't have a hell of a lot of experience having to wait for anything, and that he could shove that bit of 'wisdom' up his ass.

Yesterday's news was and is well worth celebrating, but it is also a bittersweet victory. 

Not being able to marry and live in the USA with the woman who I thought I'd be with for life kept me away from the United States for years. The fact that the committed and exclusive relationship I was in, which had been built on love and trust did not, for all intents and purposes, even exist, as far as the U.S. Federal government was concerned, forced me to choose between the country of my birth, and the woman I loved and with whom I was building a life. A move back to the states would have had to have been a move by myself.  It was not an easy decision, but I chose a future, happiness, love. This choice - one she did not begrudge, because she wanted her child to be happy -  kept me far away from my mother for most of the last really good years of her life. It kept me from doing my fair share to take care of her when she needed it - something I thought of not as a burden, but an honor and a duty. An act of love.  Being forced to choose also meant missing so many important milestones in the lives of my nephews, who I love deeply. 

I'm beyond happy about the SCOTUS decision, and it does my heart good to know that the next generation of American children will not even remember a time when same-sex marriage was not the law of the land. The truth, though, is that the bitter aftertaste left by my choice - by being forced to choose, as I waited for justice - and what that choice and long wait meant, lingers. It breaks my heart a little, even as I celebrate a victory. It's a victory that came too late for me.

The long wait was pointless, and even cruel. Gay people were ready for this years ago, and there was not one good reason to wait. Black people in America have waited MORE than long enough to get some equity. Hispanics have waited long enough. Women have waited long enough. Trans people are done waiting. When someone says that change takes time, and that you "just have to wait," what he's really saying is that HE is not ready to share his big, old piece of the pie. 

My mother would have been happy about the Supreme Court decision. She would have been happy for me. She would have been thrilled to know that one of the justices who did the right thing was a Puerto Rican woman, that another was a woman from Brooklyn. She would probably have been out in the street making noise, banging a pot with a wooden spoon, in celebration. She can't. Justice waited too long. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Those Who Came Before Us

Marsha P. Johnson
Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon
Leslie Feinberg
Harvey Milk.....

There are too many to list. Too many of them did not live to see the fruits of their labor.

Let's make this a thing. Tonight at 7pm, Pacific time, stop what you're doing and raise a glass to all those who came before us, and to all the kids, today, who won't ever know a USA where same-sex marriage is not a thing. Even if it's a glass of orange juice. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015


For carrying me home after all those long Sunday trips to the Bronx when I was just a tiny thing, when I'd invariably fall asleep on the last leg of the subway ride.

For singing me to sleep when I was little - I still know all those songs.

For buying me my first camera, when I was 6 yrs old, and letting me blow the film on anything I felt like photographing.

For taking me into the darkroom you'd rigged up in the bathroom, and teaching me how film becomes negatives, and how negatives become prints.

For getting me those hiking boots when the world expected me to want Mary-Janes.

For letting me stay up late whenever West Side Story was on tv.

For taking me with you on so many Saturdays, to see the movies Ma and my sisters didn't care about, but we loved. There were so many, but I mostly remember Outland - a version of High Noon in space that we loved so much, we stayed for a second screening.

For not skipping a beat when I had the chance to go to a great school at age 12, even though going meant riding the subway all by myself, all the way to the Upper East Side of Manhattan because, as you told me years later, you knew I could be trusted to take care of myself. 

For never caring that I didn't want to wear a dress or do most of the things that girls are expected to do.

For giving me art and photography books from the time I was big enough to hold books in my hands.

For taking the time during your own profound grief to tell me, on the day she died, just how much my mother loved me. I knew this, but I needed to hear it, and you knew that.

Thanks, Dad.