Last Saturday, about 30 of us local civil rights activists in Orange County went out to see "Milk". And afterwards, we were all inspired by the story of "The Mayor of Castro Street" to go out & make a difference outside South Coast Plaza.
And guess what? We kept going on Sunday! In fact, we took our message of love & equality directly to H8 headquarters. And believe it or not, there's not as much H8 here as you'd think.
Come along with me as I tell you about my weekend full of love & equality.
On Saturday, Courage Campaign sponsored "MILK + Love" events all over California to remind the state that the civil rights movement isn't over yet. And yes, I hosted the event in Costa Mesa. I received RSVP email after RSVP email in the 72 hours before the event, but I seriously doubted that 46 people would actually show up.
But lo & behold, we actually had over 50 people come to the candlelight vigil after the movie! And better yet, most passers-by were quite moved by our plea for equal rights. In fact, a family doing some holiday shopping stopped by to apologize for their votes for H8 as the husband & wife were showing the kids all the other loving families at the rally. They seemed to be crying once they met the married couples that the Yes on H8 campaign wants to divorce against their will. I nearly cried after they left.
Well, I guess that was good preparation for what would happen the following day. I woke up early Sunday morning to make the trek down the toll road to Saddleback Church. I wanted to make sure I'd be there in time for the 9:00 AM & 11:00 AM services. But oh my, I didn't know what I'd be jumping into!
Sure, I expected the few people driving into church who shouted expletives at us. However, I didn't expect a church member to walk down from the campus to apologize for the recent Rick Warren related controversies. She tried to tell us that Warren isn't a bigot. Someone from our group wanted to shout her down, but the rest of us speaking with her quieted him down. Then, a lesbian couple who was married this year explained to the church member how they're not treated equally under a domestic partnership even though it's "just like marriage". She had asked about compromising by "calling it something else", but she started to understand as we were telling her our own stories of discovering that there's no such thing as "separate but equal". The church member told us of her gay son & gay cousins, and I told her of my Christian friends. We cried, we hugged, and I gave her my card in hopes that she will continue the conversation we began yesterday.
Believe it or not, not everyone at Saddleback Church hates queer people. Sure, we got the dirty looks and the thumbs down and the expletives. However, we also discovered our fair share of thumbs up and amicable waves among both the passers-by along Portola Parkway and parishioners leaving church. I guess once they realized that queer people aren't so scary, they let go of whatever fear and hatred they once had. I mean, how could they look directly at the married gay couple that joined us later in the day and say that they should be forcibly divorced?
Really, that was the success of our weekend of action here in Orange County. We practiced what Harvey Milk preached. We showed the outside world that LGBT people are people too. We came out, showed our love, and asked our neighbors to join in sharing the love... And the civil rights!
It's so crucial that we remain out of our closet comfort zone in the coming months as the California Supreme Court determines the immediate fate of marriage equality and the voting public decides whether to reconsider their opinions in 2010. We must be out fighting for our rights. We must be out winning hearts and minds. We can't just expect California to fall into place, or for President Obama to magically make everything better. We musf make it happen!
So please, make sure Courage Campaign is ready for 2010. Make sure the ACLU can continue to win our rights in court. And most importantly, go out & put you love into action by telling everyone why equal rights for all matter.