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We will fight for this community

July 18, 2009

I hope you all are enjoying your weekend.  The weather was overcast in Anchorage today, but the temperature was pleasant, and there were many festivities going on about town.  Hopefully some of you made it out to have fun.  We were working on a big project that I hope you guys will be excited about once we have our big reveal, but enough of that for now.

This Tuesday, July 21, will mark the 6th public Assembly hearing for the Equal Rights Ordinance, Ordinance A02009-64.

2ndmeeting03I’m not good at inspiring speeches.   I feel like I’ve been putting the same “buck up, kiddo” message up on this blog every time we’ve gone in to one of these Assembly meetings.  I don’t want to do that today.  I want to tell you why I’m fighting this fight.

I’m straight.  Whew, I said it.  There it is.  It was a hard realization to come to, and it took many years to be able to admit it.  Let me clarify that, to say that I am NOT a person who is homosexual that has gone through a “retraining” program.  Instead, I’m someone who used to really want to be gay.  Or at least bisexual.  When I entered my senior year of high school in Virginia Beach, VA, I discovered that both of my best friends were gay.  One of them revealed to me that he had been so torn up about revealing this to anyone, that he had attempted suicide.  I was stunned, and ashamed that I had never made it clear to my friends that I would accept them for who they were, unconditionally.  I resolved to be a better friend.

As the year progressed, that same friend entered into a relationship with his first boyfriend.  They were happy, and I was happy for them.  I started to question my own orientation, playing out scenarios in which I might be a lesbian, and how I would tell my parents if that should happen.  I self-indulged in crushes on my female friends, and waited for it to hit me that I was “gay.”  I waited to embrace my alternative-lifestyle.  I intentionally left out gender-specific descriptors when I was talking about people I liked to my parents, testing to see their reaction.  I couldn’t wait to be gay, like all of the cool people I knew.

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Near the end of school year, we decided to start a Gay-Straight Alliance at Princess Anne High School, which I believe was the first chapter of that organization to have a presence in the Virginia Beach school system.  We went through the proper channels, got a teacher to sponsor us, and filed our paperwork.  I got called into a meeting with one of the vice-principals, who expressed his concern that we would having meetings just so people could “find a date.”  I assured him that this was not the case, but if we were not allowed to have this club we would be happy to contact the school district through an attorney that had offered to defend our group based upon “possible discriminatory actions.”  We got the approval for the club within the next week.

We didn’t have much time to organize, but we did get a good amount of interest from the student population, both from people interested in joining and those interested in harassment.  This was probably the most rebellious thing that I had done up until this point, and I was regularly filled with giddy excitement and worry at possible recriminations from the school administration.  Our meetings focused on building a sense of community and friendship amongst the members, as well as preparation for confrontations with other students or adults that they might have to deal with.

My friends and I scattered to different places very soon after graduation.  We said our heartfelt goodbyes to each other and promised to keep in touch.  I moved to California while my friends stayed on the East coast.  I rather disappointedly realized that while I could appreciate the female form, I wasn’t attracted to it in the same way.  I was stuck being straight, but I did get to enjoy the news that  on June 26, 2003 in Lawrence vs. Texas, the U.S. Supreme court ruled that sodomy laws were unconstitutional.  I danced around the living room, waving the newspaper at my mother.  It was a good day.1220547007-large

After that, life got in the way, and I lost ties with the GLBT community for awhile, other than the occasional chats with my friends.  I moved up to Alaska, and took heart in how supportive the residents were.  I loved how people didn’t feel like they needed to push their opinions into other people’s lives.  I reveled in the great community I had moved to.

I still live in that community, and I will continue to stay here and fight for the rights of my friends, so that they can live in this community with me and know that they have a legal course of action if they are unfairly discriminated against by an employer, or by their landlord, or by anyone else for that matter.  I and they know that this ordinance won’t make hatred and discrimination go away, but it will give them somewhere to turn when they are harassed because of who they are.  I will stand and fight with them, and with you, to make this community the place that it should be.

My husband and I will be there on Tuesday, we will be there for the next meeting, and we will be there for the fights that come afterward to defend our neighbors from those who act against them out of misdirection from their religious leader, Jerry Prevo.  He is not a part of this community, because the community that I have known and loved for the years I have been here is better than anything Jerry could hope to understand.  He is too filled with fear of anything that is different and unknown.  He is too filled with hate to see the love that this community is capable of, and demonstrates on a day to day basis.  Prevo’s followers may argue that this ordinance has caused division within the community, but the truth is that this ordinance was not a controversial 10427679_BG1issue until Jerry decided to take issue with it, as he has both times a version of this ordinance has been presented to the Anchorage Assembly, and the charge that lead to a ban on gay marriage in the nineties.  He has built his career out of hatred, and I am not willing to let him win this time.  He is a pitiable man and a bully, but he does not dictate the behavior of the Anchorage community.

I will be there on Tuesday.  I hope you will be, too.

I want to know why you’re fighting for this cause.  It may affect you personally, it may affect one of your friends or family, but I want to know why you care about this fight.

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5 comments

  1. […] Sourced Statistics We Will Fight for This Community 07/19/2009 [Originally posted on SOSAnchorage.net (…by my wife, and I am a proud and gloating […]


  2. Heather, that was eloquent and heart felt. Great job for a great cause.


  3. You rock! Thanks for all your work for equality and fairness.


  4. i have been to all but the first assembly meeting and i will do my best to be there for any meeting, any demonstration, any protest in the fight for equal rights for the glbt community.

    i will also be signing up to testify tomorrow. i’ve been working on my speech for two weeks now and in all honesty, i don’t think it’s ready. but i’ll do my best.

    my reasons for attending and testifying is largely for those you cannot out of fear of what could happen to their home, job or childcare. i am and will continue to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

    i want to thank everyone who shows their support for the glbt community as well.


  5. Heather, thank you for saying to so beautifully. I appreciate what you are doing for all of us,yourself included. When we reach out of our boxes we all grow. I appreciate you.



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