One goes up and the other goes down. Now that my site is accessible, my email is down. *rolls eyes* Apparently email is down in the nine state Bellsouth region. Why? This is a result of a E-mail upgrade that was not completed during the scheduled maintenance window. The estimated time of resolution is unknown.
Now doesn't that suck raw eggs? Sounds like piss poor prior planning to me. And the mail is STILL down - 13 hours later. Okay... the site goes down, mail goes down, Hoopy loses access at home for over a week... This is definitely ISP fuck-up week. There. It's official.
And onto even more depressing topics... We've been renting armfuls of movies lately. I recently rented "Stonewall." It was good. It made me think. And I can't stop thinking. For those of you who don't know - Stonewall refers to the riots in NY. It started when a bunch of cops raided a gay bar (The Stonewall Inn) and got even more ignorant than usual. The police were reproached by "straight" onlookers. Pennies were thrown at the cops by the crowd, then beer cans, rocks, and even parking meters. The cops retreated inside the bar, which was set afire by the crowd. A hose from the bar was used to douse the flames and reinforcements were summoned. A melee ensued, with nearly a thousand persons participating, as well as several hundred cops. The next night...since the club had been charged with selling liquor without a license, the club reopened as a "free store" - open to all and with everything being given away rather than sold. A crowd filled the place and the street in front. At first, the crowd was all gay, but as the weekend tourists poured into the area, they joined in. They'd begin by asking what was happening. When they were told that homosexuals were protesting the closing of a gay club, they'd become very sympathetic and stay to watch or participate. The crowd grew to nearly two thousand people and had been (for the most part) pleasant and in a jovial mood. Some of the cops began to become very nasty and started trouble. Two cops darted into the crowd and dragged out a boy who had done absolutely nothing. As they carried him off to a waiting van, four more cops joined them and began pounding the boy in the face, belly, and groin with nightsticks. A high shrill voice called out, "Save our sister!" and there was a general pause, during which the "butch"-looking "numbers" looked distracted. Then fifty or more "nelly" queens rushed the cops and took the boy back into the crowd. They then formed a solid front and refused to let the cops into the crowd to regain their prisoner, letting the cops hit them with their sticks, rather than letting them through.
These riots occurred on 28-29 of June in 1969. I was getting ready to turn 9 at the time. In the years that have followed, there has been some progress. In fact, most straight people believe that we already have equal rights. We don't. No wonder some people think that "gay rights = special rights"... they think we're already equal. It's so untrue. You've been fooled.
Our last rental proves it. We rented a townhouse in Virginia. It was a three bedroom townhouse. We rented it from a couple who had "moved up" to a very nice (and much larger) house across town. Tracy found the ad online somehow. We met the owners and "qualified"... It was the first time they rented a house and they really didn't know what they were doing. The rental agreement came from a computer program that you would find in Staples. I didn't mention it at the time...but the way the lady looked at me, I thought "thank God Tracy's with me - she would never rent this to me." I'm obvious. I look very much like a stereotype. I'm not radical with a flat-top or anything, but I do keep my hair short and wear "sensible shoes." Tracy looks more like a "PTA mom" with Spencer's presence confirming it. The lady mostly spoke to Tracy and the deal was confirmed. I was happy we got a larger place - it didn't much matter how.
Things were fine until our heater/ac broke. We called the landlord and she got a repairman out to fix it. While she was there, she noticed that only two of the three bedrooms were in use - and the third was used for storage. The wheels of injustice began to turn. We were planning to stay there until we had enough money to move to Florida. We had just recently decided to move and had sat down to plan - we were going to be responsible and save enough money for the rental truck, deposits, etc... About a week later (out of the blue) - our landlord served us a 30 day notice. We were wondering how we were going to deal with the lease breaking and had figured that cost into "the plan." We had planned on giving a 30-60 day notice - but not until we had saved up enough money to move. This upped our plans by about 6 months and caught us short financially. It was very strange. Luckily we had planned on leaving anyway, but this came as a very big surprise. Although we had been dealing with the wife all this time, the husband delivered the "notice." I stood there, blinking, like a deer in headlights. It was a very big surprise. He claimed that they didn't want to be landlords anymore and were going to sell the place, so we would have to leave. Blink, blink. [I know that you can show a home that's trying to sell with people living in it.] Well, I started calculating. I said, "What about Spencer? That'll make him change schools with only a month left of classes." He seemed to be taken off-guard with that. We got an extra month so Spencer could finish school. He left and I shut the door. Tracy was shocked. WTF was that? Where did that come from? Nah, we're just being paranoid. They don't know what they're doing and so they're going to sell. Makes sense.
Another week goes by and an "agent" comes by to look at the place. Yes, real estate agents rent and sell properties. Luckily, Tracy's brother was passing our way on one of his jobs. He was hauling a car from NY to Florida. He and his wife helped us out tremendously. We piled as many boxes as we could (and a dresser) on his truck. They helped us pack. They would store our things for us until we got to Florida. They arrived a few days before we were getting ready to go and left about two days before we did. It saved us from having to rent a U-Haul that we couldn't really afford. Still, there wasn't enough room for everything. We took what we could and gave away or tossed the rest. Almost all of our furniture was given away or tossed. The microwave and freezer chest went to a needy Spanish family who happened by while we were getting rid of things. The lady was pregnant and her husband was telling us..."we have nothing"... Perhaps this was all meant to happen. There is nothing so good that it cannot be twisted for evil purpose. And there is no evil that cannot produce at least some good. Our legs were taken out from under us, but perhaps in the Big Plan, it was necessary to help that family.
The final day of reckoning came. The landlord came and went through the house with her little checklist. We knew there would be something here and there that she wouldn't be satisfied with. But we expected to at least get something out of the $975 deposit - and that would help us on the road. She took our forwarding address (Tracy's mom's) and told us that she would add everything up and send us the remainder in about two weeks. The truck and the car were packed and waiting outside. Both of us had gotten the flu and could barely function. But - Tracy's ears were still in perfect working order. She heard the landlady mention something about new renters moving in that "slipped out"... We left. Discussing it later - the pieces didn't fit. There were a number of oddities in attitude and mannerisms. And two weeks later, we got a letter...outlining her justification for not sending us a dime. Not one thin dime. Our entire deposit - gone. And she knew that we weren't going to go all the way back to Virginia to fight her over it. I guess she needed the money to "de-queer" the house. Fumigate maybe? Even if we did get a lawyer and fight it, we would still lose. It's illegal to be gay in Virginia. There are still sodomy laws on the books. They're not used to beat down people's doors anymore...they just uphold and condone prejudice. It's the "ace" in their hand - to use whenever necessary or convenient.
Although this is the year 2001, there are some things that haven't changed. There is still the unstated discrimination of individuals. Laws can only go so far to protect us. And the laws that are on the books STILL DON'T protect us. In Virginia, I was "out" to a number of people at work. I give the impression that I'm just a very private person, and that I only speak of my private life to a close few friends. Truth is: in Virginia your employer can fire you for being gay and you can't do anything about it. Truth is: in Virginia your landlord can discriminate against you for being gay and you can't do anything about it. It's illegal to be gay in Virginia. And it's illegal to be gay in Florida. Your employer in Florida can fire you for being gay. And there's nothing you can do about it. The laws are still there. Luckily, my last employer valued my work so much that it didn't matter if I was gay, had purple hair, or barked like a dog. The network ran, it ran well, and I was able to fix anything that came my way. Luckily, Tracy's employer values her nursing ability - she's a great psych nurse who knows what she's doing (despite the joking on her site).
And for the most part, we blend. There's one of us that's frilly and feminine, one that's masculine and strong, and a child. Everyone knows how to deal with Tracy and Spencer...with me, they sometimes treat me as "the guy" and sometimes treat me as another girl. I can deal with both...so I let "them" decide and go with the flow. Neither of us (Tracy and I) are in-your-face radical and our family life isn't much different than any other family... And we're like that because that's just how we are. The movie reminded me that there are as many ways of being gay as there are gay people. It reminded me of the "mainstreamers" who think that we'll get further in our quest for equality if we "just look and act normal"... It reminded me of the "radicals" who think that the only way people will deal with us is if we MAKE them deal with us. And there are the drag queens...who can't be anything but what they are - and who have been on the front lines by their very nature in so many ways. And they're all right. All of it helps. Every little bit.
The "shockers" have shocked people enough so that it's no longer outrageous to have two women kiss on television. Everyone's doing it now. It's trendy. We've seen it on Roseanne, Star Trek, Friends, Ally McBeal... And it's still illegal in Florida for me to kiss and sleep with the woman I intend to spend the rest of my life with...the person I love...and the person who loves me back.
We cannot forget. I will not forget. We're not there yet.
I remember when "passing women" didn't refer to "femme invisibility," but to women like Babe Bean. I remember the tension between the old school butch/femmes and the new andro women ... which has now turned into the old school andro women vs the nouveau butch/femmes... I struggled with my sexuality and sexual identity from 1974-1978. I remember the Gay Pride march in downtown Providence in 1978 (I was 18). I remember one of my softball buddies on the sidewalk watching the show...with her mouth hanging open pointing at me ...going "oh, my god!" I remember going to the worst parts of many cities - just to be among other lesbians. I remember being in bars and seeing strange men in suits every so often...coming to collect "protection" money. I've met the "old dykes" who helped push underage and femme women out bathroom windows during the raids...and helped guard the door so they could get out. I remember being in bars with my friends when we had to scamper out the back door and sneak out quietly because of rumors that there were CID (Criminal Investigation Department) agents in the bar looking for military personnel. I remember the Army's "witchhunts"... I've been a subject of many of them. I remember being in the First Sergeant's office after a quarrel with my lover (over her cheating)...being grilled on the reason for the quarrel. "Personal differences," we said. He said, "There's only three reasons people fight. Is it money? Is it power? Is it LOVE?" We both stood our ground. Personal differences. "Don't ask, don't tell"...it's been like that in the military for years. And even though there are now "regulations," they still have witchhunts. It's still legal for the military to throw you out for homosexuality. And it's still illegal to be gay in many states in the USA.
We're not there yet. But we're trying. And although I regret that we aren't "safe" yet, I still know that the woman/man coming out today has it just a bit easier than I did in 1987. Isn't that what it's all about? Making it safe for the future - for ourselves and others.
Stonewall. It wasn't a concert in the sixties. Rent the movie. Learn. Know. Remember. And VOTE. Watching Will and Grace won't cut it and won't make the difference. You have to vote. We're just people. We may be just like you, or we may be different from you. But we're all still just people. And we're not there yet.
Posted by BlueWolf on December 3, 2001 04:40 PM