Sometimes, October 11th arrives and leaves without me feeling like I need to blare show tunes, be my own George Hearn proclaiming out loud "I am what I am". But most October 11ths arrive and leave with the need to shout loudly "I'm proud, I'm queer" in a butch rendition of a high school cheerleader. It is a day of mixed emotion, a day that reminds me that although I've been out for more than thirty years, homophobia still rears its head. And on the eve of a vice-presidential election, I do worry about my freedoms, about the hate that still wants to keep me less than equal.
Recently, a homophobe(s) ripped off a GLBT symbol from a campus history timeline posted in the middle of campus, leaving a blank space where a celebration of the campus' GLBT Resource Center once made its public mark. That act felt personal because of my work to establish the center, because of all the work I put into making the campus safe for GLBT students, faculty, and staff. To lead in the shadows of intolerance takes my vigilance, my strength, and sometimes a bit of my heart.
And it was my expectation of things being different that stung. In response to the recent campus event, the President of the college sent out a very strong email proclaiming her commitment to inclusiveness and establishing a clear statement about intolerance and bigotry. Even with this genuine support from the top, people didn't show up. Being an ally means showing up, means support.
It is a topsy turvy moment, a crossroads of a day. I cannot celebrate the day without the memory that tomorrow is the anniversary of Matthew Shephard's death. I cannot celebrate the day without remembering that I cannot marry.
But fortunately, when my own seesaw steadies, I celebrate the day being so out and proud. That is mine.