KNOW HOPE (guest post by @DamonSuede)
Turning the blog over to Damon Suede, a fabulous gay romance author and one of my best friends, on this glorious, fabulous, wonderful day.
I cried most of the morning, happily, but with a keen sense of history.
Heidi asked me to blog about what I’m thinking about today’s SCOTUS “Obergefell v. Hodges” ruling and so I did…though I suspect the insanity falls thick in what follows.
My mom was one of Mary Bonauto’s biggest fangirls.
Actually, my mother predicted today’s events 30 years ago. I was 14 and living in disgusting Texas trying not to lose my shit on a daily basis. Those were the dumbo-bimbo-Rambo years: acidwash and MTV and Twinkie defenses for all. Ronald Reagan was deep into his Alzheimer jellybeans and dismantling the American dream for the suits and shills. Conspicious consumption and trickle-down toxicity. Fags were sick, greed was good, and the country went over the cliff.
Now, my mother was a breed apart. A trial lawyer and a rabid political activist my whole childhood, she fought for her rights and for people too afraid or ignorant to fight for their own. Even in the gross bible-belt surrounded by oil money and bigots happy to crow about the faggot they’d driven over on Montrose, my mom held out hope.
“Gay marriage will happen. Your generation has to do that.”
My mom was on a tear. In the mid80s, Texas was starting to feel the crush of early HIV crisis, GRID had been renamed AIDS and the gigantic LGBT population of Houston was getting Gay Rights and ERA movements from the mid-70s and now she was trying to pass the torch to her loudmouth son, which sounded like pie-in-sky bullshit to adolescent me.
“We did Stonewall. Pride. Here and queer. We got their attention.” She eyed me skeptically and wagged a finger. “Y’all have to pick up where we stopped.”
“Fuck that,” I thought. Mainly I wanted to listen to Depeche Mode and make out with my football player boyfriend without getting beaten to death with a two by four. Pride parades seemed lame and AIDS had turned sex into Russian roulette.
At that exact moment, I was 14 and annoyed because Edwin Meese and Jerry Falwell held sway over the American imagination. I outright hated these rightwing fuck-knuckles, literally hated, in the way only a pubescent gay culture warrior could. Talk about gay mafia! At that age I wanted to kill bigots with rainbow machetes. My hatred for these credulous morons was a hurricane and an earthquake. I got angry because there was so much literal, active rage directed at us, at me. At that age, I dreamed of raining blood and fire down on those hypocritical fundies the way they prayed it would rain down on me. Confrontation didn’t scare me at ALL. I practically craved vicious confrontation because I felt so embattled down in the anus of right-wing Uh-Mer’ka. I ended up getting a degree in religion just so I could disembowel them in public debates
See, at 14 I had spent three years carrying coffins for as most of my mom’s male friends died off in the plague years. I was the only able-bodied male tall enough to wear a black suit and haul corpses every weekend while Reagan tap-danced on our sanity. I was PISSED at the world. The vindication of Stonewall and the Gay Lib movement had dissolved into a hateful magma of know-noting posturing and televised sermons from pompous bloviators who would resign in shame and scandal by the end of the decade: Falwell, Roberts, Swaggart, Bakker. Swindlers for Jesus™ every fucking one of them and may they each rot in the hell they wished on others. Not for nothing: Jesus’ favorite insult in the New Testament was “HYPOCRITE.”
Well, Dorothy, we aren’t in Reagan’s America anymore.
Today, the 26th of June 2015, the Supreme Court of these (purportedly) United States acknowledged that LGBT people actually ARE people and that thinking we’re icky doesn’t give you permission to treat us like a syphilitic can of spam. Who knew?
For the past 2 years, the trendy-but-flabby argument on the Right has become defense from “religious persecution” as if getting permission to marry means I’m bombing churches in Arkansas. LGBT people are shamed, assaulted, and murdered with depressing frequency, which somehow makes us oppressors. Kiddos, that’s some batshit Stalinist logic, there. Actual adults equating concentration camps and cake orders with a straight face. Prima facie stupidity, obviously, designed to stoke panic and con the gullible.
Then again they aren’t making an argument, they’re just filling up media space with words so they can raise money from people who will pay them to confirm prejudices in public. Ground cover for imbeciles. More than anything the fundamentalists are a business, and they make money hustling rubes by appealing to their fear, vanity, and illusions.
Right-wingers often wail about the gay agenda. “Special rights,” they moan. “Godless perversion,” they insist. “Persecuted Christians,” they claim.
The gay agenda is: we’re people.
That’s it. Full stop.
For most of modern history LGBT folks were an easy punchline: a secret “other” that existed everywhere, hidden and omnipresent as a Red Scare communist. Ooga-booga, the queers are gonna get ya. We hid in closets like every boogeyman every invented. “The volleyball coach is a dyke who’s after our daughters.” Or “That fag’s gonna infect the swimming pool with AIDS and disco.“ For large swaths of America huddled in their shed with an oil lamp and a 12-gauge, the convenient, pervy homo other gave them a hated target they could agree on.
Now gang, if anyone wants to believe that their imaginary Sky-daddy doesn’t want them to do things, they’re welcome, and LGBT folks are ALSO welcome to live like human beings with or without magical friends of our own. The conservative argument is hilarious if you think about it, because a mishmash of persecuted minorities founded this country for the express purpose of believing as they wished even when they disagreed with their neighbors. For the record, the colonies (and eventually the states) existed to prevent the formation of a fundamentalist hegemony like the one they’d fled.
Pity the poor fundamentalists too illiterate or willful to even glance at history. Well, you can pity them if you feel inclined. My well’s dry on that score. Far as I’m concerned, they can suck all the dicks.
Of course this historical reality and the Constitution that created this country turns any “religious liberty” arguments into corn chowder. Freedom to practice your religion is NOT freedom to memorialize and promulgate your religion through government policy.
And the fundamentalist Right can suck on that and swallow.
Today, I feel almost sorry for them: bigots across America just lost the perfect punching bag. Worse, they just learned that every time they swing at it, they’re going to lose more. It’s their own fault. They should have seen this day coming, but then, foresight and insight aren’t among their strengths.
Sad truth: the uptight righties know all this already, but gosh-darn-it they’re running out of ways to say that the homos gross them out. Fundies certainly don’t seem to give two shits about divorce or shellfish or mixed fibers or adultery or teen pregnancy or any of the other Leviticus “abominations.” Heaven knows they have no problem making excuses for hypocrisy like greed, graft, incest, abuse or any of the other systemic horrors their community defends and ignores with grim kneejerk determination.
Bless their hearts. May they get better than they deserve, every one of them. What they deserve is nothing I want to contemplate.
I’m convinced this screeching about LGBT people and all minorities is right-wing projection because the actual, trackable numbers make these goobers look like hell in a nighty. Check out the statistics for suicide, addiction, and rape in conservative communities. Look at teen pregnancy where abstinence is the only option, or spousal assault in patriarchal homes, or the rampant sexual abuse in religious communities. Hell…just last month, after merrily bashing LGBT folks for a couple decades, the disgusting Duggars just convinced most of Fox Nation to do a creepy apologia for INCEST, y’all. Without irony. INCEST!
Bigots point at minorities as perverts and criminals as a frantic distraction from their own gnarly eye-planks. Hypocrisy on a scale unfathomed. Here endeth the lesson.
What we are witnessing is the death throes of a delusion. Fundamentalism is fucked. If our country’s founders believed in equality, then intolerance and oppression have no place here.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident…”
Today was a hinge in history, not just for LGBT people but for America as an ideal. The current SCOTUS, one of the most conservative and corporate of any in our history actually drew a huge line in the sand for equality that is consonant with everything the Founders that sparked that engendered those beliefs and sent them across the Atlantic in the first place.
It bears repeating: our country’s founding fathers were not only not primarily Christians, they weren’t particularly religious… because like the intelligentsia of EVERY era, organized religion invariably rubs thinkers the wrong way. What person with education critical faculties swallows dogma without chewing? For those of you paying attention to history, the Protestant Reformation required doubt to occur which means these hateful fundies could stand to read a book every once in a while.
True faith requires doubt, ergo no fundamentalist can truly believe in anything.
For the Tea Party to pretend a cultural inheritance and ignore that basic truth has always baffled and enraged me. America’s long slow climb up the hill of their ideals keeps lifting us towards liberty and enlightenment era tolerance. Fundamentalism exists in direct contradiction to every principle that sends people to a new continent to set up communities that tolerate difference.
The hellacious conundrum facing all the bigots and nitwits is that America was founded as an Enlightenment Era experiment in humanism, prudence, and social justice. How can they claim to be inheritors of the founding principles of our great nation is they cannot accept the most basic principles of its founding. My mother used to go toe to toe with these people, against all odds, trying to start conversations.
Anyways, that’s a much larger (and) sadder conversation to be had about stupidity and its role in the politics of our country. I’ll say this much: whatever your beliefs, however you fall on the political spectrum, if you aren’t voting and participating in our democracy shame on you.
On this beautiful, optimistic, historic day, what I want to get at is the sheer scale and scope of what this SCOTUS ruling means to America. I want to express what my mother was trying to make me see at 14.
As of right now, this moment, no American children live in a state where LGBT people can be denied marriage. No LGBT folks can be kept away from a loved one’s sickbed or can be turned out of a house by a hateful family. A hundred years of waffling about lover, mate, partner, significant other… and all the other veils and blinds have fallen away. We don’t need code words for our relationships because they do not NEED to be coded.
That may seem like nothing, but to a nervous teen surviving on “It Gets Better” reassurances while counting the days till their getaway, this ruling is a beacon in darkness. What would this have meant to Matthew Shepard or Sakia Gunn or Ali Forney or Matt Epling? The Supreme Court just announced that these kids were people and they were allowed to love someone.
“You are a person. You have rights.” Shocking, right?
What’s sobering to me is that today’s SCOTUS ruling is being rightfully hailed as a huge step forward for the entire country, not just LGBT folks but all marginalized populations. Today’s triumph only underscores how much further Uh-Murika has to go as a civilization. What infuriates me is how the religious right keeps trying to cast basic human dignity as a privilege. What inspires me is the gifted women and men who slaved and scrabbled to get us to this point…one decision, one ruling, one squabble at a time.
Here’s what today’s decision made me realize:
Today, literally thousands of gifted people who have been battling for our basic right to marriage equality need a new job. These brave, tireless folks have been righteous warriors fighting gobshites and numbskulls for DECADES. They have gone to law schools and election offices voice the ineluctable arguments that the inestimable Mary Bonauto used to decimate Alito and Scalia today.
Well, as of this morning, those marriage equality soldiers are out of a job. Blissful pink slips all round! These are smart, strong, savvy communicators who know how to get shit done and they have tasted bigoted blood…and they’re ready to rumble. Entire organizations will retrench and refocus on other critical LGBT fronts: workplace and housing discrimination, public facility access, coercive therapies, adoption and child services, abuse and violence, suicide prevention, homelessness. We are nowhere near done saving the world from idiots and thieves.
And there’s the glorious silver lining in today’s rainbow…every one of those OTHER issues just got a huge influx of brainpower and passion and talent ready to make real changes happen for people everywhere, LGBT and otherwise. We’re gonna make things better even for the motherfuckers that want us burned alive. We’re going to beat them by saving them from themselves.
At the same time, legions of far-right crackpots will have to find new ways to demonize and marginalize us for a dwindling klan that is literally dying off and taking their prejudices with them. We have MANY other battles ahead, and that will be transformative not just for LGBT people but for any American who believes the world gets better when we help and trust each other.
Do unto others, or else.
My mom died in 2008, but she lived long enough to see marriage equality happen the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, then Massachusetts, Iowa, Washington, California, (although she passed before the Prop 8 idiocy thankfully). I’m happy to say she lived in hope and died knowing that she’d been right. I’m ecstatic to have been wrong. I can only plead adolescence and Texas.
Today has been a breathless, exhilarating, world-changing day. Like Windsor v. United States, today’s ruling will expedite future efforts to guarantee quality and hope for all Americans. We have many roads to walk and after decades of trench warfare a whole army of skilled, canny LGBT activists have been released from one long-ass tour of duty.
All these years later, the entire LGBT community has been invited to sit at a table my mom started setting 30 years ago… and I have to tell you, it’s delicious.
Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Having lived all over, he’s earned his crust as a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director… but writing has ever been his bread and butter.
Though new to romance fiction, Damon has been a full-time writer for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He has won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year. Get in touch with him at DamonSuede.com.