10.20.2010

Purple



Time flies when you're working your ass off on an unreasonable deadline, thus my absence. Last week I posted on Coming Out day, and now I am posting on "Wear Purple" day.... is this an actual day? I hadn't heard of it before, but then I didn't pay much attention to issues of gay rights when I was still focused on being straight. Is this a newly instituted day to call attention to the teen suicides? Or is it a coincidence that the two things are close, chronologically?

Either way, it's a day when I'm supposed to wear purple, but I'm trapped in Boston without a change of clothes and even if I wasn't, I don't own anything purple. Maybe that makes me a bad gay. I don't know. I'm wearing my pride bracelet.

It is Wednesday which means my project ought to be done and is officially off limits to me, though I don't present till Friday, which means I have nothing to do. Hence the post. Hence hence, I am sitting in Starbucks clicking around on Uno's wireless wifi (because starbucks hates the internets) investigating symbols of gay pride/power/identification. I am doing this because a) I can, and b)I thought I should change my facebook avatar at least, since I can't change my clothes.

I have settled on the purple hand.


I like the story behind it, and it appeals to my fascination with turning tables. If you don't know about the purple hand, here is the story. In 1969 a bunch of gay rights activists held a protest in front of the San Francisco Examiner in response to a series of anti-gay articles being published. Employees of the Examiner dumped purple ink on the protesters from the third story, and the protesters proceeded to use the ink to stamp purple handprints on the building and other places in the city. The protesters were subsequently set upon by police.

Gay rights have really come a long way since 1969. At times like this, when gay teens (or perceived to be gay teens) are killing themselves, it's hard to really know where we stand. For some people, death seems like a better alternative to life as a gay person. I can't even imagine what life must be like for those people, and I know that there are all kinds of factors that play into that. For others, life as a gay person is happy, something we almost take for granted. Living in the northeast, there are almost no circumstances where I experience difficulty due to being gay. I know that it's far different in the midwest, or the south.

It's easy to forget, living here, how hard it is for others, living elsewhere. It's easy to forget how hard it used to be to hear my family uttering ignorant statements about gays, hearing my condemnation from the pulpit, keeping my secret and feeling separated from everyone I loved because of it. There are people right now contemplating suicide and I don't know who they are. If I did, I'd do my damnedest to tell them that they can live a happy healthy life surrounded by people they love. I'd do everything I could to convince them that god doesn't hate them. Since I don't know who they are, I hope they can get a glimpse of the "It gets better" campaign, and that it'll seep into their consciousness and keep them alive long enough for them to find whatever they need to be happy.

It's also easy to forget the people who fought so hard so that I can walk down the street hand in hand with my girlfriend. The people who got ink dumped on them, their teeth knocked out by police officers, people who've been arrested and beaten because they weren't content to keep their secret and toe the line. I owe my freedom to those who have suffered and sometimes died in an attempt to change the world into one where it is safe for everyone to love who they love.

So I guess today is bittersweet for me. My project is done, but not done. And gay rights are good, but not good. And I am happy for my freedom and sad for the pain of those who haven't found it yet.

3 comments:

  1. I didn't know about the purple hand till today, it is a great story. I especially like the way that the protesters turned the purple ink round on their oppressors; turning the ink into their own statement.

    It reminds me a little of this Taoist story, one of my favourites:
    http://www.taoism.net/living/2004/200404.htm

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  2. I didn't know about the purple. I would've worn purple. I would do anything to show my support for gay rights. In fact, I am toying with the idea of joining a gay choir. Not for them, but for me. It would give me the opportunity to sing with awesome, open-minded people.

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  3. exfundy-That's an interesting idea. I'm sure you'd be welcome. We gays love meeting straights that don't hate us. ;)

    Richard- I like that story (it took me this long to read because my life is chaos). It reminds me not to let my crazy school life get the better of me, and treat it like an obstacle I can overcome.

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