Not last weekend, but the weekend before that, my girlfriend and I settled in to watch the movie "Milk". Originally I had made reservations for us to watch it at the local film house, Onze Lieve Vrouw, but Tess called me up as said, "Hey, V. can burn it on dvd for us. He has a subscription. Meet me at home and we'll watch it there." It was indeed a practical solution so I tried not to be disappointed that what I had originally seen as a movie date had turned into yet another evening at home. I changed out of my new jeans and put on slippers and sweat pants. I'll admit, there are advantages to slippers and sweat pants.
Tess arrived a bit later and we cuddled up next to each other on our white leather IKEA couch. A bowl of almonds and two glasses of red wine on the coffee table. Life for us is comfortable and we were ready to enjoy the movie.
We watched the movie twice that weekend. Once Friday night and then again Saturday morning. It took us a bit to absorb it all. Of course there were aspects of the story that were familiar. Of course we knew that in the 70's there was a lot of controversy about gay school teachers. And I had heard of Castro Street, I think. We knew about how the gay community had grown in San Fransisco, but that's not really saying a lot is it?
Regardless, I think we were more impressed by what we didn't know.
Evidently, neither Tess nor I are very political. We hadn't heard of Proposition 6, though with all the recent news about Proposition 8 it seems logical that there was at one point a Proposition 6. However, googling for links reveals that even this reasoning is flawed. Before watching the movie, though, we didn't really know what it was about. And the name Anita Bryant? I'm ashamed to admit that I hadn't heard of her either.
It wasn't until recently that I was aware that there is a Harvey Milk School in Manhattan. Also before a recent email correspondence with an acquaintance of mine who lives in Long Island, I was similarly unaware of a large number of gay politicians active it local, city and state politics in New York.
In short, I'm becoming slowly aware that I am not very aware. Why? I guess because I haven't felt a great need to be. I'm comfortable. I have my IKEA couch and my sweat pants. I have slippers and a delicious glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. I have neighbors who are friendly. I have parents who love me. Friends who accept me. My girlfriend and I can walk down the street hand in hand and nobody minds. Heck, nobody even really notices. I suppose I don't feel discriminated against; I don't feel a critical need to fight for my rights and acceptance because I feel accepted. I feel that I have rights.
If I compare my situation to the situation in San Fransico, or anywhere for that matter, in the 1970's, well, I've got it good. So much progress has been made. On most levels I experience very little in the way of discrimintation in regards to the fact that I am in a lesbian relationship. Here in the Netherlands, I can even marry my partner if I want to.
But here's where it gets tricky. I could marry my partner, who is Dutch, and our marriage would be recognized here. But would that enable me to move back to her to the States (where I am originally from) and enjoy the same rights? No, our marriage would not be recognized except in the Massachusetts or Connecticut. Now, I have nothing against Massachusettes or Connecticut. Boston is a great town; my best friend from high school lives in the area. And it's always been a secret mission of mine to give Martha Stewart a run for her money. However, I don't really like being limited in my choices. I would like to be able to choose for myself where I want to live with my partner. Could I move to Portland or Seattle, cities I would be very interested in living in? No, at this point we could not. At least not based on the premise of marriage. Could I move with her back to New Jersey, my home state? In New Jersey gay marriage is not an option but civil unions are. Would this allow me to get a visa for my partner? No, it would not. Whether I would want to move back to New Jersey is another matter, but isn't it rather ridiculous that the choice isn't mine?
There are other issues concerning the GBTL community that also should concern me, like:
* The laws surrounding homosexual parents
* The availability of sperm for lesbians interested in becoming parents
* The prejudices that exist about bisexusals within both the heterosexual and homosexual communities
* The care for older homosexuals who have not enjoyed the social advantages of either their peers or our generation
* The visibility and prevention of violence towards lesbians, but also within the lesbian community
* The visibility of lesbians at gay events
I'm sure the list could be longer, and perhaps you could name more issues that should be added. Feel free to do so. There are issues that should concern me. There are issues that should concern you. And when asked, of course, I'll say I'm concerned. I'll even become concerned. However, all too often I settle (back) into my comfortable life and enjoy that extra glass of wine on the couch instead.
After watching the movie "Milk" I thought about the fact that, when a situation is critical, we are forced to do something about it. For example, if our weight is so high that our health suffers, most of us will go on a diet. But what do we do when it's less critical? When we know we would feel better if we exercised more and lived healthier, but, eh, we feel pretty okay already. It's those last five pounds that are the hardest to lose. We get kind of lazy about it because even though the need is there, it isn't urgent. And there are more pressing matters. So we stop paying attention. And we eat some more nuts. We drink some more wine. And before we know it, those five pounds have turned into ten pounds.
Is that happening to the GBTL community? Have we become lazy? Have I? Have you? How much weight do we need to lose? How much new weight have we put back on?
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