I’ve talked in the past about the people who supported Mike and me during the last year, but I haven’t given a very important person his due: my twin brother, Kyle. Kyle checked in on me all the time during my bed rest and hospitalization. When he was in town (he traveled a lot during that period) he was visiting me in person. When I called him in a panic the day Maddie was born, he broke all kinds of speeding laws to get to my bedside. When Mike called to tell me that Maddie wasn’t going to make it, Kyle broke the news to me and held my hand while I cried. He kept a vigil outside the NICU with us. And now, Maddie’s face lights up with each kiss that her Uncle Kyle gently places on her forehead. They love each other to bits. He’s the greatest uncle, and she is so very lucky.
Besides being a damn good uncle and brother, he’s also an amazing friend, a lover of animals, an extremely brilliant scholar (he only missed three questions on the SATs), hilarious writer, and he happens to be gay. I was at his house the other day and I was saying random things, as I am wont to do, and I started a sentence by saying, “oh, when you get married, you HAVE to…” and then I trailed off. I’ve never been able to say that to my brother before and know that it could actually happen – that, like me, he could one day be married to his best friend and love of his life. And I almost cried, because there is a discriminating proposition on the California ballot that could prevent that from happening.
A lot of people think they don’t know someone who is gay. Well, now you do. You know Maddie’s uncle. And he has something to say.
Hey folks! This is Kyle, Heather’s twin brother. Heather has cruelly neglected to tell you guys all about me despite devoting lengthy blog posts to all of her ex-sorority friends, Matt Lauer, stuffed animals, the mailman, and (when pressed for a blog topic) some guy she saw outside. However, I am assured that this situation will change soon, and maybe this little missive will help us break the ice.
Heather asked me to talk to you guys about something on the ballot in California this Tuesday called Proposition 8 (non-Californians, I promise this involves you, too). Prop 8 is a measure designed to take away equal rights that were awarded earlier this year by the (majority Republican) state supreme court, which allowed same-sex couples to marry. I’ve been doing a lot of volunteering and phone banking to get Californians who believe in equal rights to vote NO on this hurtful measure.
I know a lot of you are parents, so let me draw an analogy. You know how you want your kids to grow up thinking that they can be whoever they want to be? Despite having a loving family, I did not grow up thinking that. I grew up gay, and I knew in the back of my mind that some of the things people take for granted, like marriage, were things I would never be allowed to have.
When prejudice and discrimination is sanctioned like that (and for what? love?), it can have a profound effect on a person. I’ve been lucky, but let me quote my friend John for a moment: “I volunteer as a counselor for the Trevor Project, a suicide and crisis helpline for gay youth. Many of the young people I talk to are hopeless and considering suicide, because they are being bullied in school and/or their families have rejected them simply because they are gay. Some of them have been kicked out of their homes, others have been sent to conversion camps, and others are being physically and verbally abused. Taking these calls has been a grim reminder to me that we still live in a world where a child can be driven to take their own life because of our cultural negativity toward homosexuality. Taking steps toward equal rights sends a signal to everyone that it is not OK to attack others just because you don’t identify with them. Voting NO ON PROP 8 takes that step.”
Look at the face of your child. Do you want your child to grow up with a heart filled with intolerance, or a feeling that he or she is not equal?
You know, I was reading a lovely obituary today about this really rad lady who accomplished a lot before she died, and her family wrote this: “Hester embraced life and she is remembered for her infinite capacity to LOVE, to SHARE, to be CREATIVE, to SUPPORT and to show unlimited ACCEPTANCE & COMPASSION.” Now, maybe I’m just a sucker for capital letters, but for some reason, that description really hit me as something we should all aspire to. Why let hate and fear trump love and compassion? Why take away a minority’s legal rights? Where does that lead to?
If you live in California, vote no on Prop 8. If you don’t, but you know people who do, please tell them to vote no. I remember how we all grew up reading in our history books about segregation and concepts like “separate but equal,” and thought to ourselves, “If I had been around then, I could never have stood for that.” You are around it, right now. So what will you do?
Heather again. I don’t like politics, but this is something that will TRULY affect me and the future of my family. It’s beyond politics – it’s about people. Someday when Maddie asks me what discrimination is, I hope gay rights will be a PAST example and not a current one.
And besides – a girl as cute as Maddie deserves to be the flower girl at her uncle Kyle’s wedding.