I knew that heading to the Gay March in DC this Sunday was the right thing to do. Weeks ago, on autopilot, my partner and I booked the hotel and train, and made plans for dinner in DC - with a straight friend. We made arrangements cause we'd heard about the March and decided without thinking that we should be there.
But my heart really wasn't in it. Too much stuff to do around the house this weekend. Who was going, anyway? (Lots of my gay friends hadn't even heard about the rally.) And who was going to watch Claudia, our 80-lb. rescue Pyrenees?
But then I watched Outrage, the movie about closeted gay Republicans which aired this week on HBO. The movie brilliantly lays out how the effort to demonize gays and to "protect marriage" was a cynical and strategic, and effective, campaign which united disparate elements of the conservative spectrum around hate. Who cares if tax cuts and deregulation meant the rich were getting stratospherically more wealthy while you were standing still or even falling far behind: gays are sickening and must be stopped.
Watching the movie I recalled the word "demagogue," a word I looked up earlier this year because, to be honest, it's one I'd often heard used but whose meaning I didn't know. Here's Merriam-Webster's definition: "a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power." A perfect description of those loud voices of the conservative Christian movement, neatly funded and amplified, or at best conveniently overlooked, by those more interested in maintaining the country's boardroom oligarchy than in policing bedrooms.
So thanks to Outrage, Im once again outraged. And inspired. And I look forward to the energy and excitement I'm hoping we'll find in Washington this weekend.
To that end, here are my five top reasons for attending the National Equality March of 2009:
1. Because we live in a country where a hospital official sees no problem preventing a woman from seeing her dying partner, informing her that she was in "an anti-gay city in an anti-gay state." Yes, you read the correctly. [Despite the hospital's later acknowledgement that no medical reason existed to prevent visitation, neither Janice Langbehn - who provided the hospital with a medical Power of Attorney document - nor their children were allowed to see their partner/mother Lisa Pond until nearly eight hours after their arrival, after Lisa had slipped into a coma and died. Think it was just the case of a cold-hearted group of hospital officials? Think again: the Florida District Court agreed that the hospital did not have a legal duty to grant visiting rights to a same-sex partner, even when a patient was in the hospital's trauma center.]
3. Because New York state, where I live, still doesn't allow gay marriage. (An aside thank you to Mayor Bloomberg for his vocal insistence that "the tide is turning.")
4. Because of the knows-no-bounds hypocrisy of Republicans like Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Dick Cheney, who defended her and her partner's right to have a baby without having to answer for it as "not a political statement." (As Dan Savage puts it, "you kept your mouth clamped shut while Karl Rove and George Bush ran around the country attacking gay people, gay parents, and our children in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. It's a little late to declare the private choices of gays and lesbians unfit for public debate, Mary.")
5. Because it will be fun.
(Oh what the hell, I'll add a sixth: because I need to remind myself to stop being so complacent.)
Hope to see you there.
Follow Mario Ruiz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@mruizhp