Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Teach Me to be an Activist:" What YOU can do about Marriage Equality

I received an email today from a good friend who was grieving over the passage of proposition 8, the amendment to the California constitution that stripped gay couples of their right to marry.  The amendment reads: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California"- and it completely overrides the recent CA Supreme Court decision that marriage rights between same-sex couples were a "human right."  In her email, my friend said that, upon hearing the decision she cried and called out to friends and family:  "teach me to be an activist.  What can I do to make that small difference?"

As I crafted my response, I realized that I wasn't only writing to her; I was doing the research for myself and for all of my friends who had been expressing the same reaction over the past few days.  (Tears, then anger... we're working through the stages of grief...)  So, with the thought of many of my closest friends in mind, here are a number of ways to be an activist about this.

(*A note of warning:  sorry for all the links!  But they're to some integral stuff, I promise!  Also, my copy and paste function doesn't work in this browser for some reason, but the link tool does.  Go figure.*)

1.  Go to one of the many many protests being organized all over the country!  Tell your friends!  Print posters and hang them EVERYWHERE!  Post blogs!  Send text messages!  Get out the... uhm.. anger?  (Providence, Chicago, Boston, Prescott AZ, Baltimore, Manchester NH, DC, Ithaca NY )  I cannot believe the number of protests that are scheduled for Saturday!  At least one in EVERY STATE!  I don't think I've ever seen a better organized protest campaign.  Anyway, for links to more cities, posters, video advertisements and anything else about the protests check out the Join the Impact website!  (Also- anyone know how to ensure that your local protest gets news coverage?  Is it possible to just email your local paper or news station with a heads up?  I don't know, but I'm it would be great for the ultimate size of this event to be properly publicized for once.)

(get your poster-paints and big-gay-flags outta the closet- we're goin' protesting!)

2.  Never stop being angry at the Mormons.  Never.  (They bankrolled most of the $ spent on the campaign to pass prop 8.)  In fact, I've even heard rumors on a queer boycott of the state of Utah.  Seriously!  I don't know if that's really practical, but for what it's worth, I'm not going to Utah for the forseeable future!  Take that!  
(Seriously, guys.... no Romney, ok?)

3.  If moving to California to join the fight there is not quite possible for you right now, check out the marriage equality status of the state you're living in.  Unless you live in Massachussets (or sort-of Vermont and New Jersey with their "civil union" versions,) your state probably has some dubious laws that are being tirelessly fought by some very weary non-profit people.  Look 'em up and go help 'em out.  (Even if it just means sending them a coupla' bucks or showing up to events they organize... they need participants almost as much as they need volunteers.)

4.   Stay informed in upcoming months about national and local political stuff about Marriage Equality.  I've heard that 2010 is the year to overturn the California decision, but 44/50 states have laws on the books than negatively affect gay marriage.  There have got to be things in the mean time that we can do.  I suggest listening to pundits like Dan Savage (of the Savage Love column and podcast) and watching the ever-HOT Rachel Maddow, and of course Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert...  and any other national or local news sources you rely on.
(why-oh-why won't they let her wear her glasses on the show?!? Soooo hot....)

Please please please let me know if there are any other things that anyone can think of to do to be of use on this (and any) issue!  I would love the blog to be much more interactive... with comments, clearly, but also with guest writers on related topics and maybe even actual discussions of issues.  So please, talk to me, people!  And...

Get off the internet, I'll meet you in the streets!!  (City Hall, Saturday, 1:30-4pm.  I'll be the really gay one.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Taking the Long Way Round (And Round And Round...)

So... I know I was crazy to start my first sock project on size 1 dpn, I know.  But... come on!  Harry Potter KNEE SOCK??!  How could I resist!!  And they actually looked pretty simple!  So I bravely cast on.  (Back in September.)

(look at me being all organized and shit.)

And got through the toe and foot before I realized I had no idea what I was doing.

(Me trying to figure out that darn "short row heel" nonsense.  Nonsense, I tell you!)

At which point I took a break to knit the afore-mentioned Amelia Earhart hat in an attempt to learn how to make short rows.  Then!  Back to the task at hand:

(Ok, clearly this photo was taken at the same time as the first but, I swear!  I was still just as confused!)

Anyway, I labored on, trusting the pattern (sort-of) and finally made my way through the heel.  Then came the easy part, the leg.  Only thing was... the easy part was also the deadeningly boring part.  4 knit, 2 purl ribbing for a bajillion and a half rows.  2 months, 18 inches and 5 seasons of Buffy later I was done!  Stripes and all... and then.... TRAGEDY STRUCK.   And that tragedy was my own laziness and stupidity.

And so, I learned something important while making these socks.  Never trust how long socks look on the needles:  TRY THEM ON.  I put on my newly finished sock and... it didn't fit!!!  It came to about 4" below my knee and the bind off was too tight to fit around my calf! (I had been too lazy to use the elasticized bind off suggested in the pattern.)  I HAD TO TAKE OUT 7" (that's about one month's worth of knitting and I was running out of Buffy to take my mind off of the overwhelming depression.)  I was CRUSHED.  So crushed, in fact, that that was over a month ago and it took me until now to be able to speak/write about it without tearing up a bit. 

So here is the sock (still the first one) now.  Le sigh.  I have to admit that, although I knew this project would take a while, I had no idea it would so greatly cut into my christmas present making time!  So... even though I'm so tantalizingly close to finishing the first sock I'm going to do the right thing and put it away until after the holidays.  That way I'll have time to knit some presents and throw together some crafts for the upcoming Punk Rock Flea Market!  (More on that as it gets closer.)  Anyway... alas, my poor Hufflepuff socks...  one day we shall be together...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Changing America!

"We don't know what the next president's going to face.  If we choose someone with vision, someone with guts, someone with gravitas... someone who's connected to the other people's lives and cares about making them better...  if we choose someone to inspire us...  then we'll be able to face what comes our way and achieve things we can't imagine yet."  (-Toby Ziegler, The West Wing, season 4.)

Politically speaking, I have never been part of the winning team.  The only presidential races I have voted in ended with embarrassment and despair- and the only political satisfaction and inspiration I could find was from the fictional characters on the West Wing.  (And come on, I know I wasn't the only one thinking "Bartlett for America" all the way through the primaries!)  Politics weren't anything I could support in real life, just a fantasy pipe dream brought to us by Aaron Sorkin, and my role in politics was activist, radical, revolutionary and general mal-content.  But last night made me feel like maybe something else was possible.  

I was a nervous wreck all day:  I woke up at 7:30 with stress dreams, dressed and walked down to my local Mafia bar to vote.  (Technically, I think it's called a "private club" on my voter's registration card... but it was pretty clearly Mafia owned.  Also, just in case you were wondering, the mafia voted for McCain.)  Work was just a blur of me trying to destract myself from the election...  mostly unsuccessfully.  There were texts and calls from family and friends:  "Have you voted yet?  Have you seen the numbers?"  Yes: I voted, no: I'm trying to remain calm.  (Mostly unsuccessful.)  I watched the election in the basement of a friend of a friend, surrounded by like-minded queers and plenty of snack food, adorned in my Hufflepuffs for Obama t-shirt, my "I voted for Change!" sticker and my lucky underwear. 

(underwear not shown.)

Now, Philadelphia has been rioting for the past week straight (first the Phillies winning the world series on wednesday, then Halloween and the Phillies parade on Friday, then the world's largest pinata on sunday... don't ask about that last one, it's still sort of a sore spot)  but when the clock struck 11 and the west coast polls closed... we could hear the rumble of celebrations all the way in a south philly basement.  People started honking and screaming all over the city.  We stayed and watched McCains almost unbelievably humble concession speech (he almost sounded like the old McCain- the one from before the campaign!) and then Obama's wonderfully amazing speech.  We had goosebumps... and seeing Jesse Jackson crying was possibly the cutest thing ever.

(did you catch that gay shout-out at the end?!  A president mentioned gay people!  Unprovoked and unapologetically!!  also... sorry this link doesn't work... copy and paste?)

And then we hit the streets. 
(Along with a few other people.)

I have been to protests.  I have been to marches.  I have been to rallies and teach-ins any many many other political gatherings, but NONE of them were this joyful.  For the first time, our gathering wasn't based on anger or frustration.  It was about desperate relief and sheer joy.  It was amazing:  people of all races and ages out in the streets at 2am!  It was a moment that I will never forget.  Ever.

(Josh, Sarah and Q. at Broad and Chestnut at about 1:45am)

So now comes the hard part:  now Obama has to live up to everything we see in him.  But today, we celebrate.  Today I'm not reading any incendiary political material, or making any activist art work.  I'm not going to stress (too much) about prop 8 which is still up in the air, or complain (ad nauseum) about the 2 other states that passed anti-gay marriage amendments.  Today, I'm going to bask in the rosy glow of being politically successful on a national scale, and invest energy in the belief that things can be and are going to be different.