Waiting, Berkeley, CA.
This was a moment during which my kid and I were waiting for the BART train into the city to go see a holiday dance show. For minutes on end we watched people descend the escalator: first shoes, then legs, then torso, then whole person. Could have stayed like that for hours, except the weekend trains run on a 20-minute cycle.
An account of our little journey is currently in production. Unfortunately, it was bumped out of the queue mid-week, due to the fact that my limited discretionary hours were hogged up by my sitting on the couch doing deep breathing exercises, working yet again through the rage/despair/cynicism/fatigue cycles. Because my Prez-elect, he whom I really wanted to think the best of, just gave both a microphone and a position of symbolic prominence to someone who helped see to it that the daughter I took to the holiday dance show last weekend would live in a family that, as of November 5th, had considerably less legal and financial security than it had November 3rd. Based on: naked bigotry. Or rather bigotry in sheep’s clothing. Warren either speaks for, or represents millions more like him.
All kinds of pundits have noted that such a move was tactical, predictable. A drop in the copious bucket of good this man and his administration will bring. Yeah, whatever. I long ago misplaced the ability not to take all this personally. Long ago lost the thickness my skin once had. I can pinpoint the moment, too: it was the September dawn, bathed in a hospital’s fluorescent light, when my daughter drew her first breath, a little over four years ago.
I haven’t yet figured out how to convey this unexpected condition, how it can be that any of these feelings (rage/despair/cynicism/etc.) could be new to me, since I’ve been subject to widespread social disdain/disapproval/disgust/etc. for my gender identity and love object choice for well over 20 years explicitly (once I was out to myself), and about another ten before that, implicitly (since my coming-of-age, during which I gradually suspected that I was one of them).
Spending over half these years (that would be over 15, if you’ve been following the math) actively working toward LGBTQ civil equality/rights/you name it, in one way or another, has — get this — made all this stuff harder, not easier to take. It is all bizarre bizarre. But there it is.
And I’m not the only one who has noticed that experiencing a significant measure of legal equality for that dizzy, unlikely half a year has been, quite unexpectedly, devastating. Because those six months were a furlough from a condition we many of us never really took the full measure of until we were allowed to leave it. We realized, by virtue of the contrast, the depth of the second-class citizenry that we’d been living with for so long, realized what it might feel like — might — to be regarded as not just tolerable, but legal.
You just don’t give that up without kicking and screaming. All the way.