We saw “Milk” the other day. It was heartbreaking – in more than one way.
I grew up in the Bay Area, not San Francisco, but down the peninsula. I remember the times; I remember seeing Harvey Milk at a Pride parade in the City. It was wild back then! It was good and bad. One day it felt like anything was possible. The next day our gay brothers were dying right and left.
I remember the day that Milk and Moscone were shot. I remember the newscast when Dianne Feinstein announced their murders and took charge. I remember crying. I remember the absolute incredulity we felt at the “Twinkie Defense” and the outrage at the brevity of the sentence.
And, while I remembered all of that, watching the movie, what really broke my heart is the realization that we are still fighting the same damned battle. We are still second class citizens. We are still denied our civil rights. Sometimes it feels like progress is being made, but mostly it’s one step forward – two steps back. I get discouraged sometimes at the lack of real, substantive progress, the kind that is codified into law.
But, yes, there has been progress. My girlfriend and I are able to live openly. We can hold hands in the grocery store. Ok, only in the “gay” Fred Meyer by our house in NE Portland; we’d never do that in, say, Vancouver or Gresham or Hillsboro. Again, a glimmer of change but limited. My employer can’t fire me because I’m gay. In fact, I am able to cover my girlfriend on my health insurance – that’s a huge step forward. True, same sex domestic partners are taxed on the benefit while heterosexual married couples are not. Why is there always a qualification to the progress? Why does there have to be two steps back?
I know that in the future there will be equal rights for all. I know that we will have to fight to win those rights. My hope is that in the future, if I have a mixed race, homosexual, differently-abled great grandchild, she or he will have the same rights and privileges as any other citizen of the country.
We’ve got a long road ahead.