My Two cents: Elisa Chan and the #NDO4SA

I live in San Antonio, Texas.  I’m a lesbian. I am brown.

My life experiences have fortunately taken me to many places in the U.S. and the world.  I have heard over and over again, “Yikes, you live in Texas,” or, “sorry, that must be hard,” or the occasional “No need to even vote in Texas, super red state,” and, “You should move,” and my personal favorite…”Don’t you just LOVE the Alamo?”  No, I’m not kidding. I wish I was.

So yes, I am quite aware of the perceptions that other more “progressive” parts of our country think of Texas, and must imagine our lives to be.  And, they would be right in certain cases.  For instance, one of our City Council Members was recently caught spewing ignorance and hate in a staff meeting.  Seriously? Ugh.

Now, I am not naive enough to think that because we have “come so far,”  it means that we are now free to hold hands with our partners and skip down the streets in our rainbow attire, all the while having passersby gleam at us with gushing sentiments of approval.  (I actually think that would be a fun day though)  However, I do think that an elected representative must at the very least, NOT think her constituents are “disgusting.”  Hmmm, maybe there are no LGBT people in her district… Um No.  Watch this.  Yes, we are everywhere in San Antonio.  Tan tan tan!!!

That being said, perhaps she should not be in office. Ex Council Member Leticia Ozuna recently called for just that, Chan’s resignation, when it was revealed that during the full version of the recording, Chan made disparaging remarks about Ozuna’s family and her transgender life partner.  Cheers to Ozuna for “coming out” to everyone!  Seriously, putting a well known and respected face on “disgusting” makes reasonable, non-bigoted people say “Hey, hold your horses there ma’am!”  That’s exactly the point.

Now, forgive me for backtracking…I am convinced I have untreated A.D.D., but in case you are not aware, all of this comes on the heels of A LOT of hard work done by some amazing people.  C.A.U.S.A. has been working with both local and national organizations to update San Antonio’s Non-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and Veteran status.  Yes, we also have gay veterans in San Antonio. Who’d a thunk it?  What does this mean? Councilman Diego Bernal breaks it down here.  Perhaps a bit over simplified, but sometimes simple is good.  What he does not explain in this bulleted breakdown, is what it actually means to these communities.

I know that for me, it means that my city values my contribution.  It means that as a lesbian, I can be confident in my position as a Director of an empowerment program for girls, because my community stands behind me, because no matter my sexual orientation, I do my job well, and deserve equal protection under the law. Here is a bit that I found particularly offensive in Chan’s discussion.

“If you wanted to choose that lifestyle, we don’t want to discriminate you, but you shouldn’t affect the young people,” she continues. “How terrible. … They’re going to be confused. You see two men go into a bedroom. You see two women kissing. Is that not confusing? It’s confusing.“It is actually, what you call, suggestive, for the kids to be corrupt, which is against nature. I’m telling you, anything that is against nature is not right.”

Um, excuse me Ms. Chan, but that shit doesn’t fly with me.  I LOVE kids, though as of yet I have none of my own. Perhaps I’ll adopt. Moreover, I love the kids I work with enough to “suggest” to them things such as higher education, civic engagement, community responsibility, using their voices against oppression (ehhem), love, kindness, and self worth. Shameful I tell you!

All  snark aside, this ordinance is important to a hell of a lot of people.  It’s important to me, and for my future, but it is also important for future generations.  Schools all over the nation have anti-bullying programs now, and that’s great, but if our policies continue to relegate certain communities to that of second class citizens, then there is not a bullying program on the planet that can stop violence and discrimination against LGBT people.  Our policies have the power to change culture.  They at the very least give the protected class protection against those who may want to do harm.  And I hate to state the obvious, but Chan makes a pretty good case for us needing the ordinance updated. Just sayin’.

My friend who told me I should move comes to mind.  I love you friend, but the answer is a resounding no. Not now. Not anytime soon. THIS is where the work has to be done.  We cannot leave this place to the bigots and the willfully ignorant.  No way, no how.

Here is a link to C.A.U.S.A’s petition to City Council.  The ordinance will be voted on by City Council September 5th.  I will be there with my red shirt on, in support of Equality and Fairness in San Antonio.

*To our City Council Members who support Equality and Fairness, thank you.  To those who don’t…step it up. Be on the right side of history. (I’m talking to you Ivy Taylor)