Monday, October 27, 2008
Suffer the Children
The following isn’t strictly related, in fact isn’t even loosely related to travel, writing, exploration, or cultural discovery. It’s just what’s on my mind and I need to unload.
Lately a group of pro-Proposition 8 protestors have been massing during rush hour at the corner of High and MacArthur Streets in Oakland. This intersection is almost a half a mile from my house, but it’s a major Laurel District thoroughfare, and I seem to have to pass by this group almost any time I go anywhere.
Every time I do, my blood boils. Proposition 8 is a proposed state constitutional amendment that will outlaw gay marriage, a right that, believe it or not, we actually do have in California right now. So every time I go on an errand, I have to pass by this vocal group intent on taking away one of my civil rights. That this group that wants to make me a second-class citizen is composed mostly of people of Tongan descent is just one of the oddities of the situation. Why would a bunch people of color try to impose a separate but equal scenario on anyone else? I don’t get it.
Another thing I don’t get is the fact that most of this group are also Mormon. I know it’s a conservative faith, but you’d think Mormons, of all people, would understand how terrible it feels to have people legislate your relationships.
And it does feel terrible. This is the thing I don’t like to admit, because it gives the bigots power, but it really does hurt. It feels just like junior high school, when the popular kids go out of their way to make it clear how unwelcome you are at their table. This feeling, this shame at being made to feel like you aren’t good enough to be included in something, is apparently one of those things I’m never going to outgrow.
Part of what makes this so painful is the fact that for the Yes on 8 crowd, it’s a big party. They’re out there on the corner dancing, shouting, high-fiving each other, and just generally having a great time.
That hurts, of course; nobody likes to feel that someone’s having fun at their expense, least of all me.
But the thing that’s really disturbing me, that’s actually making me despair a little bit, is the fact that kids are getting involved. These people, pretending that they’re pro family, are dragging their children to the protest. On Thursday night, a large group of adults and children were still out at 9:30pm, when I drove by on my way home from a class.
Now, 9:30 was my bedtime—my weekend bedtime—until I was 14 years old. So here’s the last thing I don’t understand: If these Yes on 8 people are such superior parents, why are their little urchins not in bed at a reasonable hour?