You’d think leaving the office at 3 o’clock in the afternoon to get to an event by 5:30 just an hour up the road would be cool. You’d even have a few minutes to spare. Parking would be a breeze, and with all that buffer-time, you’d hone your people-watching skills (from behind your glamour shades, of course) as you chilled on the sidelines from a local café. Your legs could stretch out after the drive, while you waited for the rest of your posse.
But who are we kidding? This is Los Angeles. Even if the traffic Gods threw you a bone, somehow the asphalt auto torture would still find a way to fuck with you. That’s what it does. Especially if you’re coming from Orange County. Between the bumper-to-bumper slow-mo party scene, text-happy swervers, and tail-gating speed freaks, I was happy to make it to Santa Monica Blvd. without an anxiety attack, let alone get there in any kind of time (which I didn’t).
It was exactly 5:30 when I found my friends Joey and Todd in the park. With our café pre-hang time shot, we opted to stay put, as the crowd quickly began to fill. Immediately upon arrival, we were offered mini HRC (Human Rights Campaign) flags, which we happily accepted and waved proudly, adding to the sea of solidarity in the afternoon sky. There were baby strollers, dogs of all shapes and sizes, and countless sets of arms wrapped around one another. A breathing tapestry of Love.
There was a family picnic vibe, only this family was an entire diversified community of people ranging in ages from diapers to wheelchairs. Hundreds of strangers – beaming, exchanging glances, scanning the crowd, soaring within the hearts of each smiling child waving their very own freedom flags. This is the future, and the future is NOW.
“Wow.” My nose started to tickle with the birth of tears, and I laced fingers with Todd while resting my head on Joey’s shoulder.
“I know.” Todd agreed. Joey, mesmerized by the scene, was nodding.
“This is happening.”
Yesterday’s rally in West Hollywood was hosted by the American Foundation for Equal Rights. They are the peeps who sponsored Hollingsworth v. Perry, the landmark case that helped restore marriage equality to California, which was announced just hours before the event. In addition to Proposition 8 (a California ballot banning same-sex marriage) being axed, The Supreme Court’s decision to terminate The Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), a federal anti-gay marriage law was announced. You can imagine the elation from the LGBT community.
But I didn’t need to imagine. I was there, and felt it all. And let me tell you, it was beyond anything your heterosexual hearts can fathom.
Let me explain.
My darling heteros: imagine a world where (most) every movie, television show, book, play, magazine article, billboard sign, TV ad, greeting card, monogrammed bath robes, lullaby, children’s book, Country/R&B/Top40/Rock/Folk song – everything in your world – were same-sex oriented.
You’re a man (or woman). You love women (or men). And you’re surrounded by lesbian (or homosexual) everything. What’s worse – you’re made to believe, by the law, your family, employers and complete strangers on the street that there’s something wrong with you. You’re abused mentally and physically. Shunned from your community. And have no legal rights or permission to live your life as “Mr. and Mrs.” with the one you love.
People ask you when you decided to like women as a man (or man as a woman). When you chose to be attracted to the opposite sex. And WHY you would choose a life that society makes it torturous for you to live.
Why do we choose to be straight? It’s absurdity, wrapped in judgment, dipped in ignorance.
As a woman who digs men, I’m what you’d call a “Straight Ally”. And although I wear this title with pride, I gotta say, the word “ally” is unsettling. It reminds me of the many enemies (of the gay community) that are out there, which after accepting the fact that we’ll never live in a world full of unanimous sunshine and rainbows (pun intended), really pisses me off. C’mon people. Why do we even need a side – aren’t we all just human beings sharing the planet? And for fuck’s sake, if one of us is lucky enough to find the love of our lives, who gives a shit if they happen to be a same sex couple?
But I’m getting off track. Let’s get back to the rally.
After hearing the many speakers, including those who were at the forefront to overturn Proposition 8, we collectively cheered and waved our flags among signs in the crowd that read: “Today we are more American.” I couldn’t help but feel proud to be on the right side of equality.
As the sun fell behind us and our family picnic dispersed, Joey, Todd and I walked a couple of blocks for a celebratory bite.
With each step farther away from the speaker stage, I made a point to breathe in the moment – allowing myself to savor what just went down. History was made, love and unity trumped judgment and ignorance – and I’m so grateful I was a part of it.