The Day After Tomorrow (written on Nov 5)

Tomorrow is important. Everyone I know is posting political opinions (one way or the other).  We are all waiting in anticipation for the imaginary voting bell to ring…and we’re off.  Most of us voted early. I am a fairly impatient person, and I despise lines. Republicans are right. If they want to win, taking away early voting is one way to possibly stop people like me from getting to the polls, but not this time.

Tomorrow is important because there is the possibility that progress can be undone, that “all the us’s” (Harvey Milk speech) will go back to being the outcasts, the marginalized, and the…well, squashed minorities.  Sometimes I cannot believe that we (LGBTQ people) are closer to equality than I had imagined we could be just four years ago.  We no longer have Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and my friends in the armed forces don’t have to hide anymore. Can you believe it? I have had more than a couple of friends who have been discharged, or worse, had to hide a part of themselves for their entire lives. Not anymore.

LGBTQ people now have hospital visitation rights. It seems like such a small thing, but it isn’t. It’s huge.  In my early twenties, my then partner was rushed to the emergency room. I couldn’t do anything. Her mother lived out of town, and was shocked when I told her they wouldn’t allow me to see my partner without her there. I was no one. I waited in the lobby all night, until her mother arrived  and gave the doctor permission for me to be there. It was one of the most painful experiences I have ever known. I even had a nurse spew hateful words at me. I didn’t want to be kicked out, so I remained quiet.

Earlier this year, the President of The United States of America stated that he believed that “I” deserved the right to be married.  There was a collective cheer from me and my friends I was with, and I couldn’t help but cry.  I can’t explain the feeling, but I’ll try.  When I was a teenager, like many, I hid.  I didn’t date. I didn’t care to date. I met a woman and I fell in love. I hated myself for it. When we broke up, I dated a lot of men…too many. I was pretending that I was straight, overcompensating for the struggle I was going through.

Thankfully, my struggle didn’t last long. I found a community of gay men and lesbians who not only didn’t care that I was gay, but welcomed me into their world, their families, their homes. I knew I would be ok. The outside world was scary, starting with my own family (excluding my supportive mother and a couple of cousins).  I knew life would be more difficult for me, for all of us. I remember hearing over and over that my “lifestyle” was a choice. My answer was always the same. Who in their right mind would choose to be a societal outcast? I had once been a servant team leader in my church.  According to my old church “friends” (granted, not all of them) I was going to hell. I was the worst kind of sinner.

So when President Obama voiced his support for same-sex marriage, it meant that he was acknowledging my full personhood. I know I’m a full person, who deserves the same dignity and rights that heterosexual people enjoy.  But finally, if in word only, the most powerful leader in the world, said “I” deserve the opportunity to pursue happiness in love and life.

I will never forget that.

But I am not “just” a lesbian. I am a Chicana, a woman of color. I am a brown woman. The brown part…I am a U. S. citizen, as is my mother, and her mother before her, but I remember the border town fear of the Border Patrol. I remember hearing the word “migra” and knowing that there was some reason I should fear them.  As I grew into myself, I changed that fear into activism.  I believe in the Dream Act. I loathe SB 1070.  I have protested, marched, written letters, and organized. Others who are brown like me, but have no documents, deserve the right to pursue their dreams and live without fear.

The woman.  I was not around when Roe v. Wade was decided, but I have reaped the benefits.  I have had the right to choose, and as a lesbian, you might think that it doesn’t mean much to me. It does.  It means that I am the master of my own body, and that I have the power to decide when and if I want to start a family.  Granted, starting a family is more complicated now that I have stopped trying to prove that I am straight…cause I’m not. And women’s healthcare and choices are so much more than pregnancy and termination.  I am the ONLY one who should have dominion over my body, period.

All of this means that tomorrow is indeed very important. If Romney wins, he has vowed to stand with right-wing-fundamentalist-anti-woman-anti-comprehensive immigration reform types.  This means that the day after tomorrow could bring the reality of a drastically different future, at least in the short-term.  History moves forward, and backlash is inevitable, but I am banking on the progressive momentum of this country’s people to keep the wheels moving in the right direction, towards equality and fairness.

The day after tomorrow I will be able to have lunch with my Republican friends again. I’ve been avoiding them pre-election. Come to think of it, I’m sure we are avoiding each other.  The day after tomorrow, I will unhide them from my Facebook feed.  I hope, that after Obama wins, they will unhide me also, and perhaps we will still consider each other friends.

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