My sister was giving me a pep talk this morning. You know, about how not to be tempted by despair, about trying to keep the chances of your winning or losing a battle at the periphery of your vision. About how you have more control over the dignity and passion with which you make the journey, and less about whether it will indeed take you to the destination you want.
You know, my sister was saying this.Â
The same sister who fought feverishly against a brain and spinal cord cancer that took her eldest son nine months after diagnosis. Â He had just turned ten.Â
She knows a little bit about epic battles, battle fatigue, and despair.
Since the community of support that enveloped her and her family saw to it that, for instance, they never had to cook a meal that whole nine months, she also knows something else. Â We are rarely, if ever, truly alone. Â (About the meals: don’t think I’m exaggerating. Â One woman essentially spearheaded that effort, even if dozens of families cooked for all those months.)
My sister was talking to me about how you have to keep the big picture in mind. To our family, this means: love conquers all; we are all united in the end, somehow (just as we were in the beginning); what matters in the here and now is that we treat others with loving kindness and take good care of each other. Â
The other day, a friend posted a note to the LGBT parents organization I’m a part of (and which was one of the two organizational plantiffs in the In re: Marriages case Â which California Supreme Court ruled on). Cheryl is a poet, a teacher, and a writer, and she edited a book of first person testimonies on the 2004 marriages: Hitched! Wedding Stories from San Francisco’s City Hall. The issue is pretty close to her heart.
In her note to others of us battle-weary LGBT parents on the email list, she said this:
Last Sunday as I was frosting cakes for my sons’ birthday party, I started to feel yes on 8 rhetoric infiltrating my brain. I thought, “Am I really going to let this infect my mood on a day when my house is going to be filled with love and celebration?” No way.I hear people engaged in similar struggles with the emotional impact of sitting in the center of a civil rights battle. Yes, take action: donate money, speak to neighbors, wear shirts, post signs, make phone calls. AND all the while remember what yes on 8 cannot take away, no matter which way this election goes: They cannot take away my love for my wife, my love for my children, or the love we receive from our family and friends. They cannot invade the territory of my heart or mind. No matter what happens, that belongs to me.Yes, I want to retain the right to marry and I’ll fight with everything I’ve got to do that. AND, when I feel my hope wavering, I will also remember that, no matter what, when I wake up on November 5, I’ll still have my wife, my kids, my family, and my friends, not to mention my self-esteem in tact. They can’t take THAT away from me. That notion keeps me fighting from a place of strength rather than fear, a much more empowered and powerful foundation to stand on.
And she’s right. Â
The outpouring of loving support from family, from friends, and from legions of people I’ve never met (a big honkin’ shout out to you tomorrow!) has been breathtaking (and inspirational). Â And the radiant love from my kids is going to radiate just as bright November 5th, whether or not the Mormon Church and the Knights of Columbus have succeeded in shouting “BOO! (The gay people are gonna wreck your marriage and get your kids)” loud enough in the faces of enough easily-spooked, sadly uninformed fellow Californians. Â
(I mean, one thing is voting in this change to the state constitution because you are proud of the fact that you hate and fear gay people, and you Â expressly want to keep them and their families from equal rights and protections under state law. Â Another thing is to do so when you’ve been snookered into thinking their equal rights and protections are going to damage society, or worse, your family. Â But I digress.)
I remember on my high school swim team, the coach spent a lot of time trying to decondition us from looking at swimmers in other lanes as we were heading toward the wall in our final sprints. It’s such a temptation, when on either side of you, whenever you take a breath, you can see them. But you slow yourself down when you look.
Instead, I want to remember and pass on what No on 8 organizer Maya Scott-Chung has repeatedly reminded me:Â Start where you are and do what you can.
Two parting reminders:
1. Â There’s A MILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE ON THE TABLE RIGHT NOW: your No on 8 donations will be doubled if you send them in before midnight Sunday night. The Yes on 8 TV ads have carpeted the airwaves in this state, and are “offensive but terribly effective,”Â according to today’s San Diego Union-Tribune.Â
No on 8 has a response ad, and it’s effective (and simply informative). Â Polling shows that when voters have the opportunity to compare the two side-by-side, people tend to decide to vote against the hate and fear-mongering. Â It’s just that the message needs to get out there. Â
Please help get the No on 8 in front of California voters. If you have donated, try to dig deeper. And then pass it on.
2. Â Terry Baum is bringing her acclaimed one-woman drama IMMEDIATE FAMILY to Berkeley tomorrow night!Â Â C’mon out, get together, empty your wallet some more, and fill both calendar and heart.
[next in this marraige equality series: Parental gut-check (1)]