Friday, May 31, 2002

I should be balancing my checkbook, but I just don't feel like it. I think I spent too much time in the sun shooting hoops this afternoon. I ask you, what the hell is the point of having white people, anyway? It's not like we can make ourselves useful by going out in the sun and working, we (I) would scorch clean through in a matter of minutes. I mean, really, look at the Australians. What kind of loser people have to declare Slip, Slap, Slop the national motto (slip on a shirt, slap on a hat, slop on the sunscreen) in order to prevent themselves from going extinct from skin cancer?

Anyway. I've been laying here, packed in ice (re)reading Sarah Schulman's My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan/Bush Years. Mighty fucking depressing. Anyway, I was skimming through her commentary on her 1992 address "Why I'm Not a Revolutionary," and realized it's been ten years since Measure 9. (Schulman calls it Prop 9 throughout her essay, proving she knows nothing about the history of ballot measures and politics in Oregon, but I'll forgive her because her basic point was pretty good.) And I also realized I'm not tired anymore--politically, I mean.

Measure 9 took everything I had, so when Measure 13 came around two years later, I could barely bring myself to show up at the volunteer meetings. I just didn't care. The rhetoric surrounding Measure 9 was so cruel and hateful that I simply exhausted myself trying to keep myself mentally healthy. It just wore me out, all the "Save a child, kill a queer" bumper stickers, all of Lon Mabon's lies, all of hatred seeping into our lives uninvited. I'm not sure when I recovered, but definitely five years later, I was still, like, what-the-fuck-ever, I'm too tired to do volunteer work.

This also means it has been ten years since my parents had their meltdown over my coming out. I think I actually told them in September because I was too afraid to tell them during the summer. My brother was around, and I was afraid he would come across the coffee table at me and try to kill me for being queer, and I wasn't entirely sure my parents would stop him. That turned out to be a good call on my part, because although I think maybe they would have regretted letting him strangle me a few years later, at the time? I'm not so sure. They *completely* lost it. I knew it would be bad, but it surpassed even my worst imaginations. Maybe I should have told them years before I did, but in retrospect, the worrying about their reaction was actually less stressful than dealing with their reaction.

Um...where is this going...I think the absolute venom coming from my family combined with the horrific nature of the Measure 9 campaign really wore me out. My dad pretty much refused to talk to me for months--more than six, I think. Previous to this, the longest he'd gone without talking to me was two or three months, during the Gulf War. Whenever I called, he would just hand the phone to my mom and not say a word. Then my mom would scream at me for awhile ("No wonder you didn't have any friends in high school! Everyone hated you and now I know why!"), then start crying, then my dad would come back on the line and say, "Don't bother calling if you're just going to make your mother cry," and hang up on me. Repeat ad nauseum.

I just stop calling home, and eventually they noticed. My mom broke down first and called me, and it was really awkward, what was I supposed to say? Then she called again and actually said she loved me when she said goodby. I was totally floored because I had no idea where that came from, it's not like we ever say crap like that in my family. I think I said, "Uh....good." It took me three or four calls to say it back, I think.

Everything was still really strained for a couple years, and my dad was still barely talking to me. I went to visit them (without Catherine, how stupid was that?) near the end of my first year in the MA program in history because I was completely worn out. I had been sick and had been waiting to find out if I had cancer (which I did not!), and just wanted to go home, so I did. 24 hours into our visit, my dad was just picking at me, and I finally exploded and we got into this big fight, and my mom got into it with me, too, so I just walked out of the house. I drove the entire loop, up to Nighthawk, over to Oroville, down to Ellisforde, into Tonasket, and back out to Loomis, and was gone for hours. When I came back, my mom burst into tears and said she thought I had left forever and she was sorry and that she should have said she was sorry years ago because she was and she owed me an apology, and that was that, we've gotten along pretty well ever since.

My dad just walked out of the room.

Man, where *is* this going? I thought I was talking about Measure 9. Oh, okay, well, it was obviously a pivotal piece of political history in my personal life. It forced me to come out to my parents even though I was pretty sure it was going to suck, and it brought me closer to Catherine (our first date was canvassing neighborhoods with No-On-Nine literature, on Halloween, how very lesbian of us!). I had no idea I would go from the repressive community of University of Southern California to some queer-baiting, queer-hating state of Oregon. I think this may be the reason I never really bonded with Eugene or the University of Oregon. It was so much friendlier, safer, more real, more accessible than Los Angeles, but at the same time, we were surrounded by people who hated us, and weren't afraid to be rude about it.

So, it's funny that I feel more comfortable in Indiana of all places than in Eugene, Oregon. I have no illusions about the politics of this place, and even in Bloomington, diversity isn't exactly a thriving business. No way are they ever going to allow gay people to adopt or foster children here (especially in Martinsville! I know you're trying to clean up your image, Martinsville, but your elected officials are pigs, so there!), and a lot of people would just as soon see us rot in hell. But mostly, the conservatives here really do believe in the "you don't bug me, I don't bug you" theory of life. I know my coach has huge (religion-based) problems with gay people, but he would be the first person I would ask for help and he would be the first person to offer help in the event of a crisis. I am totally aware of all the problems in the midwest, I'm not white-washing them, but if I was given a choice of staying here or going back to Oregon, I'd stay here and be damned happy about it.

In unrelated news: the Jimmy Eat World "Bleed American" CD is surprisingly awesome. "A Praise Chorus" and "Hear You Me" are particularly nice.

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