I was going to write to you this month about Pride, and the Dyke March, and the word dyke. It was to be a lovely and descriptive piece that drew parallels between my own experience and the national movement, mused about the politics of reclamation language, and would, in my humble opinion, have been a strong candidate for a Pulitzer Prize. It was going to be beautiful.
And then, like a big fat bird shit right on the windshield, the Christian Civic League splattered itself all over my summer, and there’s no way I can ignore the mess. It’s a shame, too, to now have to waste all this energy addressing the borderline-delusional and certainly incoherent rantings of an organization that represents a small, desperate, dysfunctional minority of Maine citizens when I could be doing things like watching the roller derby girls skate at the Dyke March, or eating rainbow-colored Sno Cones in Deering Oaks. Or, you know, enjoying my Pulitzer.
Instead, I’ll say, first of all: don’t sign the petition. If someone comes up to you asking you to sign a petition protecting marriage, or protecting families, or any other family/marriage/traditional values kind of garbage, just walk away.
Or, if you’re so inclined, have a loud and animated discussion with the petition-gatherers about how this proposed legislation will take away not only a real family-values triumph of the past few years (second-parent adoption), but also the protections of the Maine Human Rights Act of 2005, which shield people from discrimination in housing, credit, education, public accommodations and employment. Gesture wildly to gain the attention of passers-by, who will hear your discussion and also refuse to sign. Then you could demand to know what cutting funding for school-based civil rights teams – which do important and effective anti-bullying and diversity work – has to do with gay marriage. If you want to, I mean.
Here’s another good point to make during your loud and animated discussion: Same-sex marriage is the rallying point for this petition drive? It’s already illegal in Maine.
I find it hard to believe we have to go through all this again. I can’t tell you how odd it feels to have the same debate about whether I am a person deserving of the same rights as heterosexual people –protection from discrimination at my job, the ability to make a family with someone I love, a safe school for my daughter.
During the 2005 campaign, I had a recurring nightmare in which a woman who looked strikingly like my childhood Sunday school teacher stole my daughter’s purple raincoat out of my arms and then shot me in the throat, telling me that people like me don’t deserve to be parents. These nightmares were a symptom of my realization that there are people here in my home state who actually don’t think I’m quite as human as the heteros. It is a terrifying thing to contemplate, but the passage of the Human Rights Act was a bit of a comfort – at least the law is on my side if I end up employed by one of those folks.
I’d sure like to keep it that way.
The best way to accomplish this is by following the same advice I give to my daughter about bullies: ignore them. Bullies succeed when you give them power over you. So when they tease you, go do something else you really like. When they call you names, sing a song to yourself so you don’t hear them. And when they hand you a petition, turn your back and walk away.
Jen Hodsdon has been a Mainer for three decades, and a human being for all of that time. She’ll save a Sno Cone for you.