When the ignorance of governments, businesses, and organizations is overwhelming we can’t forget what we are fighting for.
I cried twice this summer.
I’m not much for crying, I have a tendency to express my deepest feelings through irreverence and sarcasm. This year, perhaps showing my advancing age, I found myself twice at a total loss for words and broke down in tears.
The first was during Toronto Pride. I was spending my Saturday at a garden party in the gay village and wandered away from my friends in search of a drink. The beer table was located not too far from the makeshift dance floor right beside a splash pad and jungle gym. I got into line and took stock of the scene in front of me.
Young friends laughing with each other enjoying the ambiance, old couples holding hands without fear of slurs or hatred. I saw a straight mother in her fifties dancing with her twenty-something gay son and his partner.
My moment turned into a living cliché as an acoustic version of “Born This Way” came over the speakers I saw two toddlers splashing each other calling out in opposite to directions, one to her two dads and one to his two moms. I couldn’t hold it in anymore and I turned into a sobbing, blubbering idiot.
In that moment I wished I could invite anyone who thinks there is something bad or wrong about being gay to stand with me and take it in.
I cried because it was everything we’ve ever worked towards. It was everything I had ever hoped to see in my lifetime. It was love, happiness, and unequivocal acceptance. It was just right.
My second set of tears came just the other day on the streetcar upon reading that the International Olympic Committee has sided with the Russian government, agreeing that gay and gay friendly athletes expressing themselves would be espousing some kind of political agenda and should be punished, either by arrest at the hands of the Russian police or reprimand from the Olympics themselves.
I thought of all the brave Russian people who are trying their best to survive right now and cried for them, and I cried thinking about how this opportunity for the men and women of the IOC to stand up and exhibit just one sliver of the bravery that these Russians show every day had reduced them to sniveling cowards.
The organizing body behind games meant for international cooperation threw the fags and dykes under the bus.
They’re in good company.
Amidst calls for Canada, harbringer of anti-discrimination laws and gay marriage, to pull out of the games in response to Russia’s draconian, hate-fueled laws there has been little response. Who cares about these homos anyway? Pulling out would punish the athletes, and apparently playing a game is more important than the livelihood and human rights of those stupid fags.
Our national broadcaster, despite having a number of queers they keep behind the desk to deliver you the news, sees it fit to continue covering the games. The excuse the CBC has cooked up is limp at best, using the Kremlin’s homophobic spectre over the games as an excuse to continue traditional sports coverage as if it were also news, despite the fact that they would be in direct contravention of Canada’s Human Rights Act to send (or not send) any gay reporters there to watch curling and speed skating. Besides, they just spent $100 million in taxpayer money to broadcast the games — the livelihood and human rights of those stupid fags obviously isn’t worth that much.
Sponsors Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, two of the biggest brand names in the world, haven’t made any motions towards stripping their names from the Sochi games, despite having both funded two of the largest gay celebrations in the world in NYC and San Francisco in recent years. I mean, bigots and homophobes eat Big Macs and drink Coke too, right? So, despite having already pledged their support to gay rights in the past, these big brands have to get their advertising while it’s good, nevermind us stupid fags.
When I cried on the streetcar they were tears of exhaustion. What can any one of us little people do in the face of giants like governments and multinational corporations and groups?
Part of me feels utterly defeated. Every broken bottle at Stonewall and every chant at the Toronto Raids worth nothing. Every gay person being arrested in the 38 African nations where it is a criminal offence worth nothing. Every single drop of blood from every single stupid fag like Matthew Sheppard worth nothing, and it has brought us here, to a place where we can’t even convince our own government, media, or businesses that we are human beings worth respecting or even protecting.
It is so frustrating and overwhelming to see my people being arrested and murdered, to see that all of our voices shouting can do so little.
And then I remember that scene in the park and I get it.
I’ve seen the perfect world, the one we are fighting for. I’ve felt the love, happiness, and acceptance all around me in one fleeting moment and I know that we can’t ever stop fighting until that world is real for us and for everyone around the world all the time.
If the IOC will side with the Russians we will shout twice as loud until our voices are heard. If Coca-Cola will sponsor these games we’ll dump it out in the street with the Stoli. If Stephen Harper and the CBC won’t pull out in order to send a message to Russia that these are despicable, evil laws we will bang on every door, write every letter, sign every petition, and march in every street until we are heard.
There is no giving up. Human rights and dignity are all or nothing. We have a responsibility to do everything we can to save our brothers and sisters in Russia and around the world, and if us little people scream loud enough in the ears of giants we can begin to change the future.
And if we can’t be respected and protected for who and what we are in this life than I can pray it will become true within the lives of my children, so that when they see the love, happiness, and acceptance surrounding a gay family in the park they won’t stop and cry, they won’t pause and reflect. They won’t even bat an eye.
You can follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.