Two trips to Chartlotte in one week. The first trip was on Saturday. We wanted to take part in the national day of protests against Prop 8 and the continued discrimination against gays. I had actually been dreading this. The whole Prop 8 thing has been so emotionally overwhelming and I just get angry and physically ill when I think about it or read the news or hear the latest wacko lie about the dangers of gay marriage. Massachusetts is about to celebrate five years of legalized gay marriage and guess what? It's not being taught in schools. Churches are not being shut down for refusing to marry gay people. The world didn't end. See, I'm angry again. It doesn't take much these days.
So I wasn't really looking forward to carrying a sign and marching down the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina. But then, I couldn't imagine staying home and sending Michael off on his own, either. So I went out sign shopping on Friday. While deciding whether or not to get the really pointy stakes or the less dangerous squared-off design, I strolled over to the Christmas department at Lowe's. You wouldn't think an angry, gay atheist would have a soft spot for Christmas, but I do. There's something about the lights and the decorations and the traditions that still provides a sense of comfort and warmth. As I was looking for a three-foot silver wreath to match our tree, I was suddenly inspired. I don't care if it's still two weeks before Thanksgiving, I'm going to put up our tree, decorate the house and start celebrating Christmas now!
This wore off as soon as I got home and decided to drink instead.
But the Christmas thing didn't go away that easily. On our trek to Charlotte the next day, we got off at the wrong exit and ran right into something called the Southern Christmas Show. A friend explained that it's a yearly event/showcase, promising six acres of Christmas decorations, crafts and food guaranteed to melt even the coldest and most cynical heart (aka mine). We found the protest, and I'm glad we did. It really was cathartic, joining in with hundreds of others, not feeling so isolated and alone, sharing the emotions with a sympathetic crowd. I had been worried that we'd see a lot of anti-gay protesters, but none showed up. The local media covering the event kept asking if we'd seen any. I guess it's not a news story unless you can get the haters spouting their poison. Well, fuck the media. You'll notice that in any coverage of the protests, they refer to us as "activists," "protesters" and "demonstrators." If you had been there you would have seen we're families and friends and people from all walks of life, ethnicities and backgrounds. But describing us like that would only humanize us. And now I'm angry again.
It was a good day. I'm glad we went. I needed to do something, and it felt good to be involved. Before we left, I gave my sign that said "Love Conquers All" and "You Can't Outlaw Love" to someone who didn't have a sign. We drove away knowing that come what may, we were here. And as we left Charlotte, I made a mental note to look up the details on this Southern Christmas Show.
To be continued...