And what leads to Westboro Baptist again?
Think I'll go red for a while in support of marriage equality. It's a little out there and in your face now that I see it all over the blog, but isn't that appropriate for a day like today?
As someone who grew up in the pre-internet, pre-we-are-all-connected, pre-it's-not-nice-to-beat-queers-with-a-stick version of America, I was pretty lucky in that I never cared whether someone was gay or straight, black or white, or a Star Trek or Star Wars fan (I was bi about that latter). Even so, growing up in the mid-west in the 70's meant not a lot of exposure to people who were different from me, so my belief in equality was all very intellectually easy until I moved to NYC in the 80's. It was only once I lived in the city that never slept and found that being a straight, white male made me a little bit of a minority myself (at least in the circles in which I hung) that I found out exactly how easy it really was to believe people were people no matter the color of their junk, or who they liked to rub it up against.
But I always wanted to thank the boys down on Christopher Street, because the best place to play pool in my area was a gay bar/pool hall in which my friends and I were decidedly minorities. Now I realize what a haven Christopher Street was if you were gay in the 80's, but back then I had no clue that perhaps I was intruding on what was one of the few safe public spaces those guys had back then. Despite this, we were accepted from the get go, and no one ever looked at us sideways or expressed any desire that we move on to one of the straight dives a few blocks away that were not as nice or as safe as the place we had found just a few blocks away from our NYU dorms. And while I never had a specific "we are all the same" epiphany moment, the fact that people who had been so persecuted all their lives could be so accepting of us no doubt cemented in place the idea of equality that my childhood naivete had always assumed was the natural state of being in the world. Not only were these guys who kiss guys not in the least bit threatening, but they were as decent and as kind as you would ever hope any people would be, but which often most people, in my experience, were not. Quite frankly, I think my time there left me with the subconscious belief that gay people were not just equal, they were likely superior.
Within a year I had moved away from that part of town, and so my time spent there was brief. Perhaps I only visited that establishment all of a dozen times, maybe less. I don't even remember the name of it, and I couldn't even say for a fact that it was located on Christopher Street itself, rather than on one the side streets that branched off that small enclave to the West and South of Greenwhich Village proper. But two things stand out to me about those days. One is that I remember quite clearly our 18-year old giggly musings once we realized where we were playing pool, and two was that I never really giggled or thought twice about a person's sexuality again after my time down on Christopher Street.
So here is to all of those young men who exhibited the patience of Ghandi and taught us all lessons in morality simply by example. Just getting this hearing was one step forward, and I can only but pray that the ruling to come makes this day about more than symbolism alone. But I know for certain now, as I believe do all the bigots desperately fearing the days to come, that eventually you'll be able to marry in my mid-western back yard sooner rather than later. It was a long time coming, and it's a long way from Christopher Street to NE Ohio, but if you want to drop me a line, I'll be happy to pay for all the pool you want to play when you are here.