So I’m walking down Castro Street and I hear whistles coming from the intersection Castro and Market. ”What’s happening?” I ask the guy next to me. Wild-eyed, he looks at me and says, “It’s the Yes on 8 people. They’re over there.”
“Who are they?” I ask.
“Does it matter?” he responds.
What do you say to that? That’s how my trip home started.
Like a moth to a flame, I flew into the center of the crowd… partly out of morbid curiosity. Partly because I might be able to do something up close. These queens were mad! Looking around, I saw people spilling into the streets… from the shops… from the bars.
For future reference, a bad time to try to sell a miracle Christian homo-to-hetero conversion to a gay man is during happy hour in the Castro one week after his right to marry has been eradicated by Christian influence.
Here’s the thing, people. We have spent our lifetimes getting to know ourselves. We’ve had to. Do you have any idea what it takes to look at the world that tells you who, how, and what you are supposed to be and know to your bones that you are indeed you, inherently different from the majority whether the majority likes it or not, and nothing they can say can make you anything else? Well, we do. All of us. Christianity is accepted by some of us, rejected by others. The ones who reject it often perceive it as an obstacle to their fulfillment, something that limits free thought and expression. Most of the gay community that accept Christianity as viable faith: they have to find a way to reconcile people using Christianity as to justify bigotry. ”Those people are just ignorant”, they say knowingly. You see, we KNOW we are perfectly okay the way we are. We are really annoyed that you don’t get it, too.
We have tolerated the presence of the Christian singers who gather on the corner, who discuss the possibility of our conversion to a heterosexual lifestyle. God, that’s rude. It would be like me knocking on a nun’s door, offering her Botox(TM) every week. It’s annoying, but as a community, we let them be there… and laugh. Sorry, but it’s true. It is absolutely unfathomable that some human being would choose to spend the precious moments of life trying to convince a stranger to change his sexual orientation so that straight people will feel more comfortable… I mean because God wants him to… That’s pathetic. But we tolerate it. It’s harmless, and sometimes the voices make a nice background event, like juggling clowns or something.
What’s weird is that they think they are doing something really important. They want so much for us to see things their way. But we already know where they’re coming from. Many of us grew up surrounded by people like them. They want us to “stop sinning” or be “saved”. We’re not the ones trapped in some kind of complex that has us obsessed with a stranger’s sexual behavior. Save yourselves from THAT!
Up until now, it has not mattered to us whether they see things our way or not. Well, that disinterest in their perspective has resulted in our right to marry being lost. Partly we’re mad at the Mormons. They deserve our wrath, for sure. Of course, they honestly believe they are doing the right thing. Newsflash: We are creatures of God to exactly the degree that you are. Nothing about you is superior. We are human beings… living human lives. So are you. We are not broken. Neither are you. Our souls are not in danger, not anymore than yours. Your belief that that is somehow your job to interfere in my life, to try to create a world where other people have more paths to happiness than we do is naive and insulting. Fuck you.
So anyway, as I’m standing on the sidewalk, I see 6 to 8 kids in their 20s huddled around each other. One of them kept looking around smugly. He was a big guy with caramel skin. (I think his secret fantasy was to get fucked by a drag queen on national television, but would claim in therapy that he wanted to incite a bunch of gay guys to beat the shit out of him — then try the rest of his life to figure out why he did that.) The boys were closed in so tight around them that they couldn’t move. They were smart to stay still until the cops got there, which they did about ten minutes later.
The police had an interesting effect on the crowd. Generally, the gays like the cops and respect them. We know they’re doing their job, and know most of them understand our situation — how angry and hurt we are and how these people represent the beast that has attacked or families. Once the cops were in place, protecting the Christians, the whistles got louder. We could scream and let our anger fly, knowing that the Christians were now protected from our rage.
This guy beside me lunged like he was going to hit one of them. I grabbed him and pulled him back, telling him to remember the big picture. His eyes were wild. Maybe he had been drinking. Some part of him heard me, and he went with another swing, but half-heartedly. I pulled him back again, prepared for him to swing at me. But he didn’t. His breathing calmed and he started chanting “Go home!” with the rest of the crowd. I think he saw that there was nothing to gain… that just needed to let it out. What scares me is that there are so many gay people like him, angry and looking for something to hit.
Prop 8 has been the trigger for a lifetime of anger and frustration to finally be expressed. We’ve come a long way since the 1970s, but we are still regarded as lower level humans by a significant portion of the population. We KNOW that isn’t accurate, because we KNOW what it is to be us. We KNOW that you don’t get it that gay people are every bit as inherently valuable as straight people, in the eyes of man and God) while you judge us as otherwise.
Your judgment is the obstacle to your vision, the log in your eye. From this side, it’s really clear, but you have to move through it before you can look back and see how silly it is. Deal with your own compulsion to judge. Don’t get me involved in YOUR psychic unfolding, at least not as the nail to your hammer.
We don’t really care whether you get it or not — as long as you let us live our lives un-harassed. While I don’t have any immediate plans to marry, and I don’t think much of the institution of marriage as it presently exists in our nation, removing my right to choose it in the name of some kind of religious tradition is absurd and infuriating. It’s like keeping a dog around and having it suddenly bite you. It was cute until it wasn’t. It’s really not cute anymore. Don’t do it. Really. It’s time for you to grow up, and realize that the world is more complex than you want it to be. I know it’s hard, but we all did it. You can, too. Religion has its place. I have nothing but respect for people who choose to explore a spiritual existence together as a community. That respect ends however when they decide their community is inherently better than another group of people.
Oh yeah… so the cops stand there for about 15 minutes while the crowd continues to swell. I’m not the best at estimating, but maybe 300 people that I could see? And mad! It was a sea of anger with a single focus!! I don’t think it was ever on the brink of a riot, but there were a lot of drunk people in the crowd. As we followed them down Castro Street, out of the neighborhood, my eyes darted around the crowd, expecting any moment someone might decide to play lion for a Christian. The cops created a human barrier, getting the Christians safely to 19th Street and and Collingwood, and presumably out of the Castro. As they got further away, the crowd became less wild and hostile. People started to laugh and discuss how Prop 8 had affected them, and what gall the Christians had to show themselves in the Castro now.
There’s something about this situation that reminds me of the story of the Garden of Eden. The gay community is enjoying its Eden of self-acceptance. The Mormons play God, arrogantly turning marriage into the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. ”You may enjoy anything else, but not that!”
The gays, who had become complacent in their self-acceptance, became all too aware that they are still absurdly regarded as inferior by another tribe, and that that tribe intends to dictate what rights are available to the gay tribe. This is a leap in consciousness, and not one that can be undone. Such oppression is absolutely intolerable.
We are constantly reacting to a huge population that wants to cure us, change us, have us live the way they want us to. For us to be our fabulous selves is perceived as dangerous. We threaten the world as they know it, it’s true. But we KNOW we are a valuable part of culture, of society… and of human destiny… in a bigger way. We will bring humanity to a new Garden, where gay and non-gay people will live in peace and mutual respect.
It’s true, because we won’t have it any other way — no matter how long it takes. I already know what it’s like. People who hang out – loving each other, appreciating each other’s differences, and having a good time together. Those are my friends. I’m telling you, people, life is more fun that way… and everything still gets done — but everybody’s happier while they do it. I know it’s a better world, because I’ve lived in both. Have you?
And here’s a link to some video footage of the night.