I am hardly what you would call an activist, but I did a little. Wrote a letter, sent emails, even volunteered at a phone bank asking people if I could transfer them to their senator’s voicemail so they could leave a message in support of same-sex marriage. I think I did all this, not because I so strongly believe in the institution of marriage, or because I wanted to be involved in a civil rights movement, or because I want a better future for my children, but because I couldn’t stand the hate.
I can’t explain what it feels like to hear protesters announce their disgust at you, or have the Catholic Bishop of Providence, in a state that’s 85% Catholic, tell his constituents that gay marriage is immoral, and that they will suffer consequences if they don’t fight against it. I know I shouldn’t take any of this personally, but I do. These things all scream out – something is wrong with you. You are not worthy. And people get away with it. They are allowed to display their hate. They are free to disparage and sling shit your way, and even rationally discuss why you are less than.
Truth be told, it breaks my heart. Despite the victory of this vote, and the progress and the hard work and the fight, grace, integrity and compassion of so many people, there is still the hate.
And this makes me weary. I go to Stop & Shop, I wear an old J Jill sweater and flats, my dye job is growing out at my temples, I look like the haggard mother of teenage girls that I am, I’m buying frozen edamame and Friendly’s Butter Crunch ice cream, and somewhere in that store someone thinks I am immoral, or unworthy, or not the same, not as good as, not quite right.
When I was younger I thought, tough shit. It’s their problem. But now I think, this is too much shame for people to throw around, for people to drag around. We need to stop shaming each other. We need to be better people.
I want to be a better person. I want to absorb the hate like a Buddhist and meditate it to a pulp and breathe it back into the world as kindness and hope.
I will start then by thanking all the people who worked tirelessly on this campaign, and for all the Catholics that listened to their own heart, mind and God, and for all the civil rights believers and fighters and all the people, straight and gay, young and old, religious and not-so-much, who cheered mightily when the vote passed and the victory sounded and in a second change happened.
I will call on gratitude to fight the hate.
How will you fight it?