Tag Archives: Rhode Island

Don’t be a Drag, Just be a Queen

imagesCANEDQ48History this week in the tiny state of Rhode Island. Now, along with coffee milk, the Big Blue Bug, clam cakes and the Superman building, we have gay marriage.

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?

 

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Say It Ain’t So

The libraries are closing.

I know other things are closing too. Factories, big box stores, music/art/sports programs, restaurants, movie theaters, entire shopping malls.  I know half our towns are broke, people are out of work, our  house isn’t  worth what we bought it for, Zuckerberg lost a few billion dollars, college graduates can’t find jobs,  health care feels like a bonus and people can’t retire until they’re 80.

But the libraries are closing.

Perhaps the economic crisis is only part of the reason. Should we blame Kindle, Amazon, self-publishing, e-zines, Ask.com or Wikipedia? Are people just too busy to go to the library? Have our attention spans become too short? Is there a backlash in our tolerance for librarians? Are children suddenly developing an allergy to the smell of all those books in one place?

Maybe I’m to blame. I am a reader. If you are a reader you know what this statement means. It is a primal part of who you are. You have read so many books that their words, their stories are part of the way you look at life. Years and years of these books have layered inside you, like sedimentary rock. They are your foundation. You can’t imagine your life without books, without reading.

So I hate to admit this, but it’s true. I hardly ever go to the library anymore.

Then why in the world am I bemoaning the loss of a place I rarely use? Am I just being sentimental? Maybe libraries will show up in movies some day and we will laugh at them, like watching Michael Douglas strut through the streets of New York in Wall Street with a mobile phone the size of a toaster.

I think my attachment is so strong because that is how I became a reader. I loved libraries, felt at home in them, at peace. I also felt excitement and freedom and safety at a time in my life when there wasn’t a whole lotta of that going around. I loved the smell of paper, the hushed silence, the maze of stacks, the little drawers in the card catalog. It was like stepping into an alternative world. A world where stories lived. Where stories waited for me. Where it felt like anything could happen.

In Rhode Island Dunkin Donuts thrives, along with nail salons, strip clubs, and pizza joints. I happen to frequent 2 out of 4 of these places (unless you know me well, you will have to guess which), yet I honestly wouldn’t care if they all started closing. But not the libraries. I want to be able to go there if I need to spark those old feelings. I want other people to discover themselves there, to become readers. I want to be able to get free books when I’m retired and broke. I want to sit at a table and write, surrounded by thousands of stories whispering, you can do it!

Maybe this weekend I’ll go to the library. Before it’s too late.

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