Monday, November 24, 2008

Signs of the Times

After California voters passed the odious Proposition 8, gays took to the streets to protest. In the process America's gay community not only helped itself, it helped me. No need for me to make the funnies this time around. I couldn't do one giggle better than the protesters who carried signs turning anger into amusement.

Rallies took place in a few states shortly after Election Day, and then occurred nationwide on Nov. 15. Join the Impact, which instigated the Nov. 15 fandango, has lots of photos on its Web site apparently taken across the entire feisty period.

One guy holds a sign reading WOULD YOU RATHER I MARRIED YOUR DAUGHTER? I hope that sign made the evening news and discomfited assorted fathers.

Propped in front of a young, pink-clad girl sleeping on the sidewalk, a sign says MOMMY & MAMA, PLEASE MAKE THE SCARY BIGOTS GO AWAY! Sweetie, the monsters under your bed your mothers can handle. The ones in the voting booths are a trickier business.


In one picture a bunch of folks pose with yellow signs that use the word equality in some way. But one of the signs reads EQAULITY. Perhaps she's after equality for dyslexics.


Speaking of anger, check out the signs aimed at the groups that fought tooth and nail for Prop 8; these likely make LGBT leaders currently worried about scapegoating unhappy. One is a clear dart at Mormons: KEEP YOUR MAGIC UNDIES OFF MY CIVIL RIGHTS.

Also, YOU HAVE TWO WIVES. I WANT ONE HUSBAND. Another sign features an outline of the state of California and the words WELCOME TO UTAH.

Catholics don't escape. A sign says YOU GET MARRIED IN YOUR CHURCH, I'LL GET MARRIED IN MINE! Under those words someone drew a priest's collar and clerical attire. Where the head of this Catholic authority figure should be sit two male wedding toppers.

You wound us, instead of beating you up we’ll go all creative on your ass.

This sign captures the frustration over African-American support for Prop 8 and still manages to be funny: I HELPED ELECT THE FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY MARRIAGE BAN.

Some signs draw that contentious parallel between black civil rights and gay civil rights, like HEY CALIFORNIA, JIM CROW CALLED. HE WANTS HIS PROPOSITION 8 BACK!!!

Join the Impact's site also includes pages of downloadable protest signs. My favorites include NO MORE MR. NICE GAY and LET ELLEN DEGENERES KEEP HER TOASTER.

A site called The Frisky has great photos from the Nov. 15 protest in New York City. One fellow holds a sign over his head that reads DON'T TELL ME I CAN'T REGISTER AT BARNEYS. Could that be any more New York? Aggressive and funny.

Likewise for HATE MAKES YOU FAT. JUST LOOK AT ARKANSAS. Touché to the state that now won't let gays adopt.

Another guy's sign says I'M HERE TO MEET MY HUSBAND. That's very East Coast too—the man is multi-tasking.

In Orlando, someone drew Sarah Palin and the words I CAN SEE GAY MARRIAGE FROM MY HOUSE!

Seattle offers JESUS HAD TWO DADS, and, in a reference to Palin's pregnant daughter, MARRIAGE IS A SACRED INSTITUTION BETWEEN TWO UNWILLING TEENAGERS.

It's a tough decision, but I've decided on my favorite sign, which comes out of Los Angeles: WE CAN'T ALL MARRY LIZA MINNELLI!! How true. Not that we haven't tried.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Emotion Roundup

I'm mad.

I'm angry that Proposition 8 passed. I'm mad that Californians voted to ban same-sex marriage. They kicked gays and lesbians into the La Brea tar pits.

Never before has a state yanked away gay marriage after it had been legalized. California has historically led in the area of social change. The state Supreme Court's decision last May granting gay marriage sure looked to be the latest example. Now California leads in heading backwards. The about-face was so fast the whole state must have whiplash.

Gay Golden Staters suffered a soul-crushing overnight demotion to second-class status. On Nov. 4 they had the right to marry; by Nov. 5 they didn't. It's as though the sandman flew around sprinkling sand and pilfering privileges.

Straight Californians told their gay neighbors you're going back, back to the realm of domestic partnerships/civil unions/wedding rings made of daisies. And if our state Supreme Court said that makes you separate-but-unequal, that's the point! You're lesser and we're going to make sure you know it. From the privacy of voting booths.

Oh, and if writing discrimination into our constitution seems a bit distasteful, not quite American or Californian, well, sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. It's a cross we're pretty sure we can bear.

I'm bitter.

The Mormon church, the Catholic Church and the usual fundamentalist Christian outfits poured money into the campaign to rid gays of the right to marry. Their religious conviction that homosexuality is a sin stands between me and my civil rights. I'm bloody tired of these groups forming a blockade like the Spanish Armada.

You'd never know that in its decision legalizing same-sex marriage the California Supreme Court explained that religious entities would be as untouched as vestal virgins.

Allowing gays to marry "will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs."

So you can continue to discriminate merrily within your own faith. But that wasn't good enough for these churches, and they pulled out all the ecclesiastical stops on Prop 8.

That's not all I'm bitter about. In California African-Americans went to the polls intent on voting for one of their own—and against gays. Some 70 percent of black voters backed Prop 8, even as they voted overwhelmingly for gay-friendly Barack Obama.

LGBT voters helped African-Americans achieve their previously unthinkable goal of a black president. African-Americans helped LGBT folks return to second-class status. The situation has more ironies than Sarah Palin has skirts.

On and after Nov. 4 we saw African-Americans of all ages crying with joy. Obama was a symbol for them that they have made it at last. Prop 8 was a symbol for us that we haven't.

I'm optimistic.

Now that I've vented my negative emotions into the atmosphere, I can acknowledge that I absolutely believe we'll get what we want and deserve. History really is on our side. Gay marriage will continue to move forward—and sideways, backward and diagonally.

As president, Obama will model a happier attitude toward gays generally, assuming he keeps his promises. This will help all LGBT people, but my hope is African-American gays will benefit most; Prop 8 underscored how often black gays are between a rock and a hard place and another rock.

What I find myself seriously pleased about is that I'm not the only one who's mad. The stealing of rights in California pissed off gays so much they took to the streets to protest. That's my idea of fabulous.