2011 was a good year in many ways. Some of us now have the right to half-marry in the fine state of New York (has this milestone been outplayed yet?!). Others can still marry their first cousin in 26 states. So, all seems to be right in the world -- the United States. Oh, and Time named its Person of the Year: the Protester.
2009 was not a good year. In December the New York State Senate voted against the LGBTQ community's right to marry. And I, by default of my conscience, became a protester. I think it may have taken me a solid year to actually call myself that. Nevertheless, I was surely in the minority of the minority. There was a small, and I mean small, group of us that decided to ditch the safe, harmless lobbying ways and begin raising some hell for our equality. We certainly weren't being voted person of the year. If there was an Amoeba of the Year award, we would have at least been nominated by the LGBT community. Let's just say it was "frowned" upon. Self-hatred is a dangerous thing.
So now we are all the 99 percent (well, 99 percent of us are). That is a whole hell of a lot of f-ing people. Each of us is just 1 person out of over 307 million documented people in the United States alone. That seems like a pretty broad umbrella to align myself with, especially when a majority of the other people who fall under that umbrella do not support, let alone fight for, my equality.
So, yes, I'll proudly own the fact that my salary doesn't exceed $1.5 million a year. Fighting for money is far less important to me than fighting for my equality. I hate money. I love my community.
My heart breaks every time I hear that a child killed themselves because they were bullied for being queer. Every time a teen is kicked out of their home because they came out or were outed. Every freezing winter night that the same teen has two options: freeze to death on the street or sell their body for a bed. Every time a friend of mine has their heart ripped out because their partner has to leave this country due to unequal federal marriage laws. Every time someone gets fired from their job and has absolutely no legal recourse. Every time a lesbian is raped to be "fixed." Every bit of shame that we all feel as a community is shame that 89 percent of the 99-percenters will never feel.
I have no desire to be divisive, and I fully support and unify with the rest of the 99-percenters; I do the same with all 100 percent of my fellow Americans. However, I hate to see our causes, our struggles, our fight be drowned out. We cannot forget that we are still a minority, suffering daily as unequal citizens. We are the 9.9-percenters, people whom I feel empowered to stand up and fight for. A community that doesn't have the voice of 99 percent of the population. A community that faces down multi-million-dollar organizations that are formed solely to strip our rights away and, with hatred in their eyes, harm our children. A group that is not only suffering from economic injustice and income disparity but legal and social discrimination and violence, too.
I have ultimate respect for everyone who stands up for what they believe in, but I feel reluctant to jump on the bandwagon and become one of the persons of the year. Instead, I want to fight for the people who need all the voices we can get. I understand that it is human nature to want to be a part of something, to fit in. However, we were dealt a different set of cards, and it is our duty to fight for our equal set of cards.