April 2018

Monday, November 12, 2012

We did it!

Yesterday, our minister Karla opened church with a jubilant, “We did it!” She threw her arm in the air, and I think she would have done a cheerleader jump if she hadn’t been wearing that long white robe.

Karla was celebrating the passage of Referendum 74, a vote by the people of Washington allowing same-gender marriages.

Annie, a straight woman, cried during a prayer of thanksgiving for the referendum’s passage. “This gives me so much hope,” she prayed through her tears. “We are becoming a more just place to live, and there’s hope for more justice.”

My partner Ann said to me, “I think it’s interesting how passionate straight people can be about this. It’s great, and it’s interesting.”

I wonder if I would have been so ecstatic were I not a lesbian myself. I wonder if I would have gotten to know GLBTQ people and seen their fight for justice as mine. I hope so, but I don’t know.

I feel pretty sure that I wouldn’t have taken on someone’s issues if I hadn’t known people who were GLBTQ. Maybe that’s the case for all of our justice issues: we need to know people who lives differently than we do—economically, socially, culturally, religiously…--and it can be hard to get to know people different than we are.

A decade ago, Ann and I hosted an adoption party for our friends Katie and Diana and their tiny, almost translucent baby Bailey. We weren’t making a political statement by having this party: we were celebrating a sacred and joyful time with supportive friends.

Our straight friend Marcia asked if she could bring a guest (I think it was her sister-in-law) who was visiting from Missouri, and Marcia now says that the visit totally changed her sister-in-law’s attitude towards gay and lesbian people. She saw us as normal people celebrating in a way that normal people would celebrate.

Our church’s relationship with Guarjila, El Salvador, has been much like that, too. We have traveled to their rural town, founded when a group of people in Honduras refugee camps organized for an intentional community. We have hosted some community members in our home, too.

In Guarjila, we met people who became our friends and who share their lives with us. We also learned about some ways that our government, afraid of Communism and Socialism’s spread, funded their Civil War and trained their soldiers in torture techniques.

Could our government have done that, and could I have remained oblivious if I had known these people? I don’t think so.

Some say that technology is making our world smaller, but I wonder if we’re becoming more isolated, more sequestered in relationships with people who are like us, more unaware of people who are different than we are.

And yet we humans still write and gather and take to the streets in joy and in anger. We blog. We want to connect.

I have learned so much about people I did not know twenty years ago: people living in rural Michoacan, rural El Salvador, Ethiopia’s cities. People who have immigrated to the United States, sometimes as refugees from violence and poverty. People who live with disabilities and life-changing health conditions. People who identify as GLBTQ.

And yet, in so many arenas, I’m sure I remain oblivious. How do I hear their stories, and how do I share my stories with them?

We need to know each other. Our survival, our spirits, and our world demands that we know each other.

Yesterday, I gathered with six other educators to discuss the possibility of writing a book together, a book that would share stories from our lives in schools. Which stories, we’re not sure yet, but the importance of telling stories seemed clear to us all.

In church on Sunday, we celebrated Referendum 74 for the rights it provides to those of us who are GLBTQ. We celebrated the possibility that our world could be more just. And we celebrated, I think, the belief that our stories had been heard, and through our stories, we are becoming people to those who did not know us before.

In celebration, we shared a wedding cake with the figurines of two grooms arm in arm and two brides arm in arm, and we toasted the day and one another with sparkling cider.


To us all.

1 comment:

  1. You are a warrior on so many fronts, Mary. I have no doubt that if I and my straight sisters and brothers were being treated as second-class, invisible citizens, you would step up. Because that's the kind of person you are.

    Not to respond is to respond. Not to speak up is, in essence, speaking up. These messages came to me in a powerful sermon by my minister back in Houston, speaking on homophobia in the days when you could lose your pulpit (in Texas) by speaking as he did. The "allies" as some articles call us, have friends who are gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, wondering... and you most certainly deserve the same rights and responsibilities as the rest of us. We are all human beings, after all.

    So we fought. And we'll keep it up. And state by state, we will win.


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