Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Inauguration Day

By now most of the world is probably aware that President Obama’s second term in office officially began this Monday (well, it was Sunday, but we have the big show of it on Monday), which was also Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  I’m pretty well convinced that inaugurations should always be held on public holidays to give more people (especially children) the opportunity to watch one of our country’s most important ceremonies.  Who has watched an inauguration and not, for even just a passing moment, imagined themselves up there taking (or administering) an oath of office, singing a song of patriotism, or reading a poem of hope and unity?  

It’s a great thing for young people to have that sort of inspiration. 

I can’t help myself, sometimes I still get all proud of this old place.  The trips I’ve taken to DC in the last couple years have been inspiring, despite all the political gridlock, hokum, and euchring, when I’m there, I still feel a sense of hope at what can be accomplished.  Miss Smith Goes to Washington, if you will. 

And there was so much for young, and somewhat less young, people to be inspired by Monday. 

Read on for more....

Now, I’m realistic and I understand the concept of incrementalism.  Of course we all want to see the changes we believe in happen quickly, and sometimes we get frustrated when they don’t.  And it can be difficult to maintain the diligence to see things through along all the little steps and set-backs.  But it’s all worth it when we see that things are happening, like we did at the Inauguration. 

For the first time ever, a Presidential inauguration speech nodded to Stonewall (alongside Seneca Falls and Selma) and acknowledged the need for equality in America.  Although the President has made his position known previously on the subject of gay marriage, to bring the motion forward on, literally, the national stage is a signifier of President Obama putting his full weight behind equality efforts.  And we also know that he has changed his position from the one which he previously held.  That’s change I can believe in!

Just across the street from the Capitol building where the swearing-in takes places sits the Supreme Court building.  They’ve got the button at the moment.  This could be the year when we see DOMA dashed at last. 

The gentleman, Richard Blanco, who read his poem One Today at the ceremony, is another inspiration.  A man who grew up under the weight of homophobia at home, who instead of letting that weight crush him, bore up under it to arrive at that national stage on one of the country’s most important days.

This is all incredible in what has become my life’s work.  Not only my writing but my career track and volunteer work are all geared toward striving for parity, inclusion, and representativeness of the LGBT community.  I hope eventually that I’ll be writing historicals about the unique difficulties that come from relationships not being legally recognized.  I hope that my volunteer work will be with just another place to hang out in town, and won’t have to be a safe haven where kids can be who they are.  I hope that I will end up having to shift the focus of my research career when HIV is no longer an epidemic public health crisis.

But until then, I’ll keep on keepin’ on.  Things will take time to change.  Even if we could magically awake to a society where everybody (finally!) gets it and agrees to quit discriminating, it would still take time to change some things.  That’s how humans, and societies of them, are - imperfect and slow to make lasting corrections.  And they usually need a lot of prompting and reminding along the way.  That’s a big part of why I do what I do.

For the young, recently-out girl who ended her life over the weekend, and for her grieving mum – let’s not get frustrated and try to speed up a slow a process, but let’s make sure that the process is going to produce the right result.  Let’s support leaders who aren’t afraid to stand up for what’s right (and who show that it’s ok to grow and change as we learn more).  Let’s celebrate those who have fought to overcome personal stigma and challenges to stand in a proud place on a proud day.

Some people say it doesn’t get better.  But, of course, it does.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t take work and patience.  That doesn’t mean it gets better on its own.  But it does get better and it will keep getting better every day that we keep standing and working together.  I hope one day we’ll witness an inauguration of the first openly LGBT President (since there have probably already been a few closeted ones). 

And if it’s still open, I’d like the Secretary of Explaining Stuff job when we get there, together (if Mr. Clinton is done with it, that is!) 

Included, a few shots from the Capitol visit i had with my social work class last spring.

The Capitol lawn

Inside the rotunda

Inside the "whisper chamber"

Bust of Dr. King

The Supreme Court, across the street from the Capitol

View of Capitol building with cherry blossoms

No comments:

Post a Comment