Sunday, November 04, 2012

Welcome to My World

I'm another year older, and as is my custom, I like to celebrate that aging is a daily process by celebrating for several days. Today's celebratory activities began with a great breakfast and conversation with good friends at a local eatery. After the usual preliminary discussion of what is new in each of our lives, the conversation turned, not unexpectedly, to politics, gay "rights" versus privileges, and a brief summary of my last blog post where I suggest that we have to be willing to share our stories in order to understand one another's realities.

Two committed lesbian couples, one preparing to begin their 20th year together, and the Frau and I anticipating our 10th year, ranging in age from our late 40's to 60 - realized we are growing weary, and older, waiting for "change." As we discussed the realities of our world, we realized that most heterosexual couples in equally longstanding and committed relationships don't give a second thought to the fact that should their spouse die, they would be entitled to collect the social security benefits of their deceased other. We would not. 

After 10 and 20 years together, respectively, we are families. We have grown so accustomed to thinking of ourselves in that way that it is a nasty jolt into reality when we find ourselves in a situation where others do not recognize us as such. That recognition may be as subtle as being invited as individuals - not as a couple - to events at your own church, or as blatant as being denied the opportunity to adopt or have your marriage recognized.

I am really sorry that in the 21st century, that gay "rights" is an issue at all.  As Rachel Maddow points out, we shouldn't have to be granted rights - that's why they call them "rights." Nevertheless, it appears that we do. I feel like a broken record, but I don't think we can "argue" people into seeing things "our" way. Attitudes and perceptions change when abstract issues become humanized through getting to know real live people. If we are going to be known, then we are going to have to tell our stories. We are going to have to be willing to say, if you make that decision/vote that way/ignore that attitude, then I and my family will be impacted in this way.  A friend of mine posted the following quote on his Facebook page recently:

"I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies...and that they disagree with him on gay rights. Fine. Then look me in the eye, speak with a level clear voice, and say 'My taxes and take-home pay mean more than 

-your fundamental civil rights, 
-the sanctity of your marriage, 
-your right to visit an ailing spo
use in the hospital,
-your dignity as a citizen of this country,
-your healthcare,
-your right to inherit,
-the mental welfare and emotional well-being of your youth, and
-your very personhood.'

You’re still complicit. You’re still perpetuating anti-gay legislation and cultural homophobia. You don’t get to walk away clean, because you say you 'disagree' with your candidate on these issues." -Doug Wright

What is your story? What subtle or not so subtle actions have made you (or a loved one) feel diminished as a human being? Would you be willing to share them with me? If you would be willing to contribute to this effort, leave a comment here, or message me privately on Facebook. I promise to respect any requests for anonymity; although, I think our most powerful stories will bear the stamp of our identity. I would like to find a way to tell our stories, humanize our lives, share our reality, so that those who really seek to know us can understand when we say "Welcome to My World." 

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