I’ve been quiet. I notice it’s hard for me to think what to say. This has happened before. When I am waiting for someone and something out of my control to make a decision that will change my life, I get really quiet.
A few years ago in 2004 I stood in front of a tribunal of congregates, my peers and colleagues in a Congregational church of which I was a trustee. A meeting was held among parishioners to vote whether or not Paula and I could get married in the physical body of the church. A number of parishioners turned out for discussion. Another group wrote notes and e-mails to the minister who had been preaching equality in sermon after sermon. There was a note to him mentioning that if Paula and I could marry then he could marry his grandson and keep his healthy retirement package in his family for as long as he could foresee.
And if I found that argument specious, there were more to choose, some I knew about, many I didn’t. People who knew me would ask me why I was attempting. Why was I in the church at all? The answer for me was that my daughter had asked – she later regretted it! – to participate in various church-related activities. Paula and I showed up. It’s what I say to anyone who asks – “show up, be reliable, be ready to love.” Now I’m more likely to add, “be ready to be loved,” and in its absence, vacate the space!
I didn’t come out until after Stonewall, after I had my children, after I had grown up not knowing there was “one more thing” to be different about. I appreciate that, I wasn’t ready to face the world of the 50’s with that much difference. In the spring of 1969 I was 25 with two children and as far away as I could get from my “upbringing.”
Later a lover’s mother would call my mother for support and succor. When asked how she felt about my being a lesbian my mother said, “oh, I have two other children, I don’t have to think about Pam at all.” She had said to me years before to “keep That in Boston, don’t bring It here.” I didn’t.
And that brings me to my wondering now, as we wait for DOMA, is our silence not helpful to those who would we were not here? I grew up where silence was the default for anyone not in the clear majority. When I would speak up it was assumed I was not telling the truth or that I was making it up. I truly think that today we have such “fast” change because we have been allowed the mainstream for a while. We have turned up, shown up, been counted and not made much of a difference. I used to joke when marriage was first an option that a line around the city hall in a few towns was about what people were going to see. We are not so many and our influence is not about sexual orientation. We are like everyone else. I think that’s what’s so funny to me, our perceived impact is huge compared to our mass.
The arguments against our civil rights would be funny if I weren’t dependent on them to tell me where I can stand.