Tag Archives: Harvey Milk

100 million castaways, demanding a home

100 million: That’s how many people who felt as I did last week. Or at least as many as stood up yesterday to say: Not in our America.

Using the skills that were so essential to the election of the current president, a handful of kids-with-broadband organized the event in cities around the country. They used email, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube to provide a single, coordinated answer to the question so many were asking: “What do I do now?”

In Philly, the weather complied, with 70-degree temps warming the crowd of 5,000 clustered by City Hall. A group as diverse as my new city, in both ethnic composition and age. Families with small children, parents,  ministers joined folks like myself and Rachel, or the guy with the sign “No More Mr. Nice Gay.” Or like white-haired Cass McGough, 72,  who eyes were a soft match to her carved earrings, and whose sign said simply: I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT. I didn’t ask her if she knew Harvey Milk, who would have been proud of the day.

“I never thought I’d live to see a black President,” McGough grinned as the crowd gathered. “But I also never thought they’d leave us so thoroughly out of this moment, either.”

Even more heartening, to me, was the Cataldi family — South Philly types who wouldn’t have looked out of place among my Bronx relatives. Dino Cataldi brought his entire family, whose signs were among those made famous on TV and here: A GAY MARRIAGE IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS MY FIRST, SECOND AND THIRD STRAIGHT MARRIAGE. When I asked one of them why they’d come, he said “My brother-in-law!” and pointed to Dino, a burly guy with wavy hair and muscle-y arms.

Upon learning his last name, I told Cataldi about my own Italian family, and that my coming-out process felt at best incomplete. “You wanna know how I came out? My father asked me one night at dinner, Are you queer?  Before I could say anything, my brother answered for me: He’s not queer. He’s  gay.” In other words, not creepy, not other. For all my San Francisco-bred comfort with the term ‘queer,’ the story moved me, and I wished I could tell one just like it.

Meanwhile, the kids just kept coming. I felt like I’d seen them canvassing for Obama, and they’d just gone on to the next logical goal. They were passionate about not, as columnists did,  targeting not any demographic group, not even the Mormon Church — instead targeting the indifference of those to whom think gay and lesbian civil rights are a side issue, not worth showing up for.

Now, of course, comes the hard work of making even future protests share a goal. I’ll watch, and show up when I can. This could be the 21st-century ACT-UP, though so far we don’t have the artists to show for it.

(The video is from the 1981 Secret Policeman’s Other Ball, a benefit for Amnesty International. My title’s quote from The Police feels suddenly pretty on-topic.)


A couple mornings after

Given what I’ve posted here, you were likely expecting me to be exultant tonight. And I remain heartened, thrilled cautiously hopeful, and glad for the national results. In case you were curious about my little corner of the swing state, Ward 58 went with the wave, 69 percent for Obama — though not precinct 26, where I voted, with its Russian immigrants and many retired cops and firefighters who went for their fellow veteran.

But I also suddenly want a T-shirt that says “We Are All Harvey Milk.”  Dan Savage, on Salon yesterday, encapsulated what Rachel and I felt:

Tuesday night I was overjoyed.

But Wednesday morning, reading the papers and listening to the news on the radio, my boyfriend and I — we’re boyfriends in the USA, husbands in Canada — sat at our kitchen table and had the exact same discussion we had the morning after the 2004 election: When the hell are we moving to Canada?

The anti-gay politicking that goes on in this country is a bit like a dog whistle: Straight people can’t hear it, but it drives gay people absolutely around the bend. The importance of Obama’s victory can’t be overstated; I’m as moved as anyone else. But the passage of anti-gay marriage amendments in Arizona, Florida and, most heartbreakingly of all, California (and with overwhelming support from African-American voters), along with the passage of an anti-gay adoption amendment in Arkansas, left us both feeling shell-shocked, betrayed and angry.

We’ll see what happens. Personally, I’m in favor of abolishing civil marriage entirely: everyone gets a legal civil union, and leave the multiple definitions of  marriage to the multiple churches.

bayard1But it all feels like a dream deferred, as Bayard noticed 20 years ago. That video above is of the new President dancing with a woman whose wedding, seen below, may have just been invalidated. Here’s to dancing with the future, but only if all of us get to do it.

watch this. then again. then vote. then cry.

Running behind, as usual. But I finally saw this, a few days after another viewing of Brother Outsider. A week to the election and I can’t get enough of angelic troublemakers. (I also can’t wait for the flick to come out, whatever Gawker says.)