Monthly Archives: February 2014

All It Takes


When Harvey Milk was murdered by Dan White in San Francisco so many years ago, the defense attorney said it was because Dan ate a lot of junk food and was really hopped up on sugar when he took his gun downtown and into the Mayor’s office where he shot and killed the Mayor of San Francisco, George Moscone, and Harvey Milk, an openly gay man recently elected to public office there.They called it the “Twinkie defense,” but, I don’t think sugar was the culprit. I mean, there are lots of things to blame on sugar, but murder is rarely one of them. Dan just couldn’t stand to see his city, the town where he grew up, changing into some place that he just couldn’t wrap his brain around. They were stealing his memories of how his home town was supposed to be. Nothing fit his pictures anymore. That’s why I think he did it. A belly full of Twinkies won’t make you murder two people in cold blood in the middle of the day. But hatred will. Rigidity will. Fear will.

Ellen Page, the young actress who starred in the movie, JUNO, came out as a lesbian because she got tired of living with the pain of hiding.  I know that one. I will never hide again.  Just before that, defensive lineman, Michael Sam, from the University of Missouri, announced to the world that he is a gay man. Uproar over that, and the problems facing the NFL with an openly gay man in its midst ensued; people wringing their hands over how “uncomfortable” those poor players might be in the locker room, knowing that there’s a queer in there with them.  And I’m thinking REALLY?  ARE YOU SURE??  Are you sure that NFL players won’t just say, “So?” and keep playing the game, grateful that Michael Sam is the powerful football player that he is.

I have often said that I wished, for one day each month, all the gay people in the world would suddenly turn bright purple so the world could see who we are and where we are. Chances are, we are at work with you, at school with you or live next door to you.  We are your sisters, your brothers, your aunts, your uncles, your doctors, your nurses, your teachers, your boss, your friends and, sometimes, even your minister. There would be no more hiding.There we would be, flamed out in all our purple glory, for the world to see.  Can you imagine how freeing that would be – not just for all the gay people, but for the world?  There would be no choice about whether or not to COME OUT! (what Harvey Milk always said we all should do) because OUT is what we would be. So, what Ellen Page did, what Michael Sam did, was not only brave but healthy – for themselves, and for the rest of us, too. There is no shame in speaking your truth and claiming your place in this world; the shame comes from NOT doing that.  That’s what I think. And, I don’t care how much people claim to love the Constitution, until ALL Americans are included in We, the People, with all of the equal rights and responsibilities guaranteed therein, we still have a long, long way to go “…to form a more perfect union…” Gay rights are civil rights, human rights, and rights that need to be granted, finally, in this 21st. century. Oh, and, guess what?  To quote Rachel Maddow, “You don’t get to vote on my rights – that’s why they call them ‘rights'” Indeed. There are fewer things in the world more humiliating or maddening than to know that, every few years, a whole bunch of people get together and vote on my life. Trust me, if you were in my shoes, you wouldn’t like it, either.

In the movie,42, about Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player, there’s a scene where the crowd in Cincinnati is booing that Jackie’s even on the field playing for the Dodgers.  PeeWee Reese, the Dodgers’ shortstop, trots over to first base and starts talking to Jackie.  The crowd continues to boo and yell racial slurs.  PeeWee tosses an arm over Jackie Robinson’s shoulders and keeps it there, then thanks Jackie, and the crowd goes nuts, shouting and booing. Jackie looks at PeeWee and asks, “Why are you thanking me?”  And PeeWee Reese nods toward the stands. “I’ve got family here today,” he says, “They came all the way from Louisville. I need ’em to see this. I need ’em to know who I am.” And, so, they did. Such was the measure of that man.

We got to see the measure of another man last week, something I hope inspires more people to speak up, step forward, take a stand. Dale Hansen is a sportscaster for WFAA-TV in Dallas, the guy who gave the most eloquent commentary about this issue of equality just recently, then was invited to appear on the Ellen Degeneres Show to talk about it last week. You can see it on YouTube, if you’d like. He took a stand and he said what needed to be said.  Sometimes, it takes all you have to speak the truth.  Sometimes, the truth is all it takes: people of good will and compassion standing up for what’s right and fair. His commentary has gone viral, as it should have, and the worldwide response has been overwhelmingly positive, even though he’s caught some flak from certain groups, as you might imagine. In his interview with Ellen, he referred to himself a couple of times as “…an old, fat, white guy from Texas…” but that’s not how I see him at all. In my eyes, right now, he’s the cutest, sweetest guy on the planet. And, a man of courage, too. Some people think our day has come, but I think our knight has arrived, as well. Thanks, Dale. You made us proud.



Universal Luna


A big storm blew into southern Oregon late yesterday afternoon with lots of wind and rain, rain, rain.  INTENSE rain, impossible to escape, unless you were already snuggled up and inside – which I wasn’t – but I was close, except for the firewood, which needed to be gathered.  Then, drizzled on, soggy and bogged down, and with rain dripping off the bill of my wonderful, waterproof cap,I dragged in firewood and built a fire in the wood stove before settling in for the evening to grab a bite of dinner, do some laundry and watch TV.

Hours later, when the rain finally let up, I stepped outside to retrieve something from my car.  The clouds had lifted and the silvery moon shimmered right there in front of me, almost close enough to touch, it seemed like, as if a spotlight was shining on all of us, just another little reminder that we are all in this together.  It was so beautiful, so exciting, so thrilling that I almost hopped, like a flea, around the front yard, shouting out “WAHOO!” and waving my arms in the air, before dancing toward my Subaru.  I was wishing that the one I love was here to witness this with me; hoping that the clouds around British Columbia last night had lifted, as well, so she could see what I was seeing in Oregon, that she could gasp at its beauty along with me.  Our own luminescent touchstone.

I posted a version of this story earlier on Facebook, and it’s fun to read what people have written back about their experiences of the moon. It connects us, that moon of ours, with all of us staring in amazement at its beauty and wonder. A high school friend told me how lovely the moon looked last night as it rose over downtown Dallas. I grew up in Dallas; I can see that in my head. Another friend said she sends “Moon Alerts” to her grandchildren across the country when that silvery orb is giving us an especially great smile in the sky. Sweet stuff. Connection.

Few things in this life have that same kind of connecting quality.  In America, we all stare at our flag and sing our national anthem with our hands over our hearts, often with tears in our eyes.  Our flag connects us as countrymen, but we can pretty much bet that the Russians, say, or the North Koreans, or the Iraquis aren’t going to have that same visceral reaction to our American flag that we do, nor would we to theirs. The moon, though, well, that’s a different story. The moon is an equal opportunity mesmerizer for the whole world as it shimmers out there in an indigo sky, reminding us that we are one world with one moon and that, if we try really hard, we can sometimes think of this family of man as one, also. Really, it’s like a Coke commercial without the great graphics but, truthfully, the moon doesn’t need the great graphics.  It just needs us to pay attention.

The moon was not yet full last night, I know, and, thus, it is not yet perfect. But, then, neither are we and, maybe, that’s what makes it all so wondrous. Even in our imperfection, our shiny, magical imperfection, we all still have a chance to glow.  To shimmer. To sparkle. To shine so brightly it takes someone’s breath away. And, like Buffalo Gal doing the cha-cha across her rain-soaked driveway last night, to even dance by the light of the moon.