TPR coverage of Transgender Day of Remembrance
Tonight was my first time to hit the streets and petition for signatures for something I believe in… and it was an incredible feeling.
Even though I wasn’t out there long, I collected quite a few post cards in support of benefits for domestic partners of city employees in San Antonio. GetEqual Texas sent us all out to the local gay bars to get people interested in the cause, and the results were pretty great. Only two people turned me down (two middle-aged gay men in a gay bar who were apparently too busy and disinterested to support equality) and another couple told them to leave for being “stupid bitches.” I didn’t even have to get involved. Other people griped at them for me. Haha!
I wanted pictures of me with my clipboard and a stack of cards, but it didn’t work out. Oh well, I will just make a mental scrapbook of the event. I can’t wait to get more involved!
I participated in a prayer vigil last Saturday night with an LGBT Catholic group called Dignity San Antonio (a branch of DignityUSA) to protest their exclusion from the Catholic church by Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantu.
Dignity is a wonderful, respectful group of people who are never rude or confrontational—certainly not a problem, right? Well, I guess Cantu felt otherwise. Dignity SA has been a part of the church since the 70s and has attained huge success locally, but last year in October, they were told to get out or stop talking about gay rights.
I heard about the quiet protest from a great friend of mine and thought it was definitely something I wanted to be a part of. While I don’t consider myself a Catholic, I am a very religious/spiritual person and I don’t take kindly to the notion of exclusion based on faith (that’s another story). I believe that religious and spiritual faith should always be governed by love and acceptance as well as human dignity. What else is faith but love, acceptance, and trust in a higher power?
Anyway, I made a few non-confrontational signs (I didn’t want to put anyone in the group in a bad position, and I figured antagonistic signs at a peaceful, spiritual ceremony would have been in poor taste) that read “We are ALL the little children of the world” and “Yes, Jesus loves me” (with emphasis in rainbow colors) from my days in Vacation Bible School. Everyone remembers those little songs, right? My boyfriend, Alex, carried a sign with a paraphrased verse from Matthew 5 that I regard as a personal reminder to do good works regardless of outcome, “Blessed are those who are persecuted through righteousness.”
To say that we were well-received would be an understatement. We were welcomed into this group with arms more widely open than I have ever felt. The feeling of love was in the air, and it was obvious that this group lived up to their name. “Dignity” is beautiful.
What made me crazy enough to think that the internet needed another blog?
Well, yesterday I was casually browsing Facebook and Tumblr (as usual) and decided to take a break from my crazy work to check the news, as I do almost compulsively. Instead of my usual huge news sources though, I clicked on a local news website to see what was going on.
For those of you outside of San Antonio, the city is currently trying to pass a measure to provide benefits for domestic partners of city employees. Even our mayor Julian Castro and city manager Cheryl Sculley are on board with this. (in fact, both Castro and Sculley have been chosen in the past to serve as Grand Marshal of our pride parade)
There was a poll on the website that asked whether or not you are in support of domestic partner benefits, and I answered “yes,” obviously, and was stunned by the results of the poll (60% oppose the measure) but even more so by the comments people had left.
We’re not a super-conservative city, but the vast majority of our population is religious. While most of those people do not actively protest gays, their leaders do, and we have some pretty vehemently anti-gay religious leaders here*.
Apparently, they’ve gotten their message across to a small, but outspoken, group of people. The hate speech I saw in comments on my local news website just blew my mind. I didn’t know that such hate could be so close to home in a city that seemed to really not bring up the gay issue too often.
We have a large gay population, and 33% of same-sex couples in San Antonio are even raising children—that’s the highest percentage of any city in the country. Our biggest local companies like USAA, Rackspace, and many others, already provide benefits for domestic partners of employees. Also, this new measure would only cost the city $300,000, or less than 1/10th of 1% of our annual budget!**
This craziness has prompted me to be more involved in person; not just behind the computer screen anymore. On Friday, I am helping GetEQUAL Texas canvas the downtown area for signatures in support of the domestic partner benefits measure, and that’s just the beginning of what I’m going to be involved in.
So that’s part of what made me want to start a new blog that focuses on LGBTQ issues. I want a personal blog that chronicles my journey as a new gay activist (and hopefully inspires others to do the same) and offers hope to those who feel like they are always stuck under the oppressive thumb of hatred. THAT’S NOT THE CASE. We WILL be equals. Don’t let your anger or frustration turn to sadness or feelings of helplessness—we will do this!
* San Antonio is also home to 19 wonderful, gay-affirming ministries.
** Check out our budget here and the additions in spending here.
Note: we approved additional spending of $400,000 to extend public pool hours in June, July, and August. I think we can swing $300,000 for health insurance for same-sex partners of city employees.