Tuesday, October 12, 2010

a straight ally roll call

Monday was National Coming Out Day and I missed it here.

But I didn't want to miss this chance to recognize some of the people who have gently, and not so gently, schooled me about my straight privilege and shown me how to be a better straight friend.

George - I have no idea where you are now, but introducing you to my family was a first for me and you were gracious, graceful and kind in the face of my father's blustery fundamentalism.

James - I remember sitting in Espresso Royale while you sternly pointed out to me that straight people asking gays and lesbians to not be 'too' gay or lesbian, or to ask why gays and lesbians couldn't be more like other people, was the height of homophobia and cultural ignorance. And you closed your books, got up, walked away and I knew I wouldn't be talking to you again until I apologized - and not just apologized but, in a way, repented. And so I did. That was when I got what it meant to be your friend. It was also when I understood that it wasn't enough to 'be ok' with gays and lesbians but to shut the hell up and listen.

The Michigan Crew: You all know who you are. You showed me a world of diverse thought, opinion, culture and patience! Oh, the patience. And some of you also publicly called me out when I said the most horrible things. And thanks for that. I remember leaving a GEO meeting after scorning some students who weren't as active as the rest of us and I used a word that was derogatory. Halfway home, a woman stopped me and told me she was offended by the word I'd used in the meeting and she explained why it was homophobic, damaging and wrong. I was abashed. Ashamed.

When I presume to get on my high horse to tell the gay community what they need to do in order to be accepted by us, I remember this moment. And I swallow my presumption.

(And thanks for the cocktails! Oh, the cocktails!)

Miguel and Fernando; James and Tomas - seeing you become parents has been awesome. Your hearts are so big; you have opened your homes to children who need to be loved, cared for and nurtured. I won't ever be a parent but I'm glad you four are.

John - the Boystown legal aid lawyer who did me a solid and kept me from being evicted when I first moved to Chicago and was awful with money.

(That was sort of a big deal, man.)

Sara and Elizabeth - whose wedding and marriage makes me wonder how people could say their relationship is any less valid than mine or anyone else's.

Aunt D-, dad and L- - you all have shown me that life is a journey.

We all deserve to live honestly, freely and equally.
One day, that ideal will be reality.

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