Posted by: alphafemme | November 14, 2008

Thoughts on Election Day

I haven’t posted since the election because I didn’t want to write about anything else before I commented on the election. But I have been having the hardest time processing it and figuring out what I even think about it, let alone being able to write about it coherently.

I took Election Day off from work and did No on 8 campaigning in Contra Costa County, one of the most conservative counties in the Bay Area. It was exhausting work, not in terms of being physically demanding but rather in terms of being emotionally draining. It was hard to put myself out there on the streets with No on 8 signs, seeking signs of approval and support or even just mild interest from passersby. I got called a “nigger-loving cunt-munching faggot whore” by one lovely young man. Cunt-munching? Kinda like it. Not gonna lie.

So I was in Contra Costa by myself most of the day, and then came back to San Francisco to watch the results pour in, also by myself. Lissa was working until 7:30 so I sat at a bar in the Castro and watched Obama win Pennsylvania, then Ohio, then Florida… And then when Lissa got out of work I made my way over to the Westin St. Francis Hotel by Union Square where the No on 8 election party was being hosted in a ballroom. We were just entering the hotel when Obama was announced winner, and cheers erupted all across the square. It was like when the Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was like New Years in 2000, only it was way more intense, way more jubilant, there was this prevailing euphoria. And I was carried along by it, weeping as I watched first McCain’s concession speech, and then Obama’s victory speech. The enormity of what we had just accomplished blew me away, took all my solidity out of me. I was like gel. How do I re-establish my conception of myself in an Obama administration? Under a government that I support? I have come of age in an era of dimwitted politics, an era in which liberalism was squelched by fear-mongering and dishonest pandering to an easily misled middle class. And Obama won! Incredible. And mind-boggling. And bawl-worthy.

But then the ballot counts of Prop 8 started coming in, and the mood quickly sobered. My tears became tears of dejection rather than victory. Lissa and I left the Westin around 1am, ready to collapse in bed. I cried myself to sleep, a complete emotional mishmash, not sure whether I was crying for joy or exhaustion or sadness or anger or confusion. And I woke up feeling nothing, really. After all, Prop 8 hadn’t officially been called.

Then over the course of the day, it was called. Prop 8 passed. And my feelings about this election have been so hard for me to decipher that I haven’t known what to write and how to write it. Then this morning, my mom forwarded me this editorial by Judith Warner in the NYT, and it was in writing back to her that I found my voice. Here’s what I wrote:

Thanks, Mom, for forwarding this. How poignant, and true; it just captures so much what this election has felt like for me. I’ve never really felt homophobia and heterosexism so fully as I did on election night. It was a kick in the gut. And it still brings me to tears every time I read something like this. There was an online editorial written by a black straight man calling on fellow black straight men to be queer allies, which had me bawling. There was the youtube clip of Keith Olbermann’s “Special Comment” on his nightly show (if you haven’t seen it, you MUST watch it) which also had me in tears. And now this too. It’s like now, whenever straight people call it what it is, openly, directly, and passionately, I get all teary. Like “oh my god, there are people who care!” Because on election night, watching all those tears streaming down the faces of Obama supporters on TV in Chicago, and here in San Francisco, I just felt so… left out. Of course I rejoiced in and celebrated his win. But I felt, for the first time really, so invisible. Here the first black president of the US was just elected, a triumph of civil rights, and many of the same people who voted for Obama also voted against gay marriage? What? How is that possible? I just couldn’t feel as happy anymore. And sometimes now when I walk around or go about my day, I wonder, “did that person next to me on the muni vote yes on 8? did that person still proudly wearing his obama button vote yes on 8? did that person who was crying for relief and joy at obama’s victory speech vote yes on 8?” It just has taken so much out of me.

So. Anyway. Thanks for passing this on, we need this kind of thing so much. We NEED straight people, who supposedly have nothing invested in this, to be loudly proclaiming “This is about ALL of us.” And it’s really not just about the specific right to marry–because obviously, that doesn’t really affect me right now and honestly I don’t even know that I think it’s the best fight for the gay rights movement to be fighting–but it’s about truly being pushed to second class citizen status. And even I feel the pangs of that.

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