In the wake of the passage of Amendment One in North Carolina, I’m going to give homage to two women who were important to me. Their interactions with me continue to give me hope that the people of NC are not entirely as hateful as the legislation they just passed.
One of them was my freshman composition teacher. That’s a position rather like being a nurse’s aide in the hospital – theoretically of massive importance, but practically full of mundane drudgery dealing with other people’s crap. She was considerate and polite, putting up with our nonsense and with several flavors of youthful stupidity. She wore a gold band on her left ring finger, and in a class conversation, I once gestured to it and referred to her “husband.” She was kind enough to tell me after class that I was mistaken. I had to process that for a bit; gay and lesbian people were simply not on my mental radar.
Another time, I was sick after class and had to stay put and rest a bit. She stayed with me and talked with me to help me stay calm, and she told me about getting together with her partner. She ended with saying that they would get married if they could, but they can’t; they wear the rings anyway. I nodded, thinking that was a stupid hiccup in the law that would probably get fixed sometime.
I simply couldn’t see any reason to discriminate; I didn’t exactly become an ally at that point, but I became a lot less of a jerk. Looking back, I realize that I was part of the unending torrent of anti-QUILTBAG yuck that she had to deal with. It wasn’t her job to do QUILTBAG 101 with me for the umpteen thousandth time in her life, but she did, and she did it beautifully. I bless her and honor her for it.
The other woman was my doctor for most of my undergraduate career. She was Roman Catholic, in a committed partnership, and while I knew her, she and her partner adopted a little girl from China. I told her that I thought that was great – not that she needed my approval, duh, but I was fumbling towards being an ally. I didn’t know what it was, but the rainbow triangle on her office door made me more comfortable seeing her.
When I wanted birth control, she was the one I went to. We talked about the options and decided that an IUD might be the best way to go. I had been indoctrinated with the “IUDs cause abortions!” lie, and she took my concerns seriously. She gave me some scientific reading that dealt with the truth of the matter, and discussed it with me, and I agreed. She put in the IUD that kept me safe and healthy for many years. I bless her and honor her for it.
Of course, the final irony of all this is that it was also in college that I realized I am what I call fundamentally bisexual. You might describe it as being a Kinsey 1 or 1.5. I never “came out” as bi because I’ve only had one intimate same-sex relationship, and it was never public. Functionally, I’m an ally, not a QUILTBAG person. But knowing that affects how I think, and how I feel, and how very, very angry and sad I am about the state where I lived for many years and met these wonderful women telling them and everyone like them that they are second-class citizens and will be forever if the assholes have their way.
My heart goes out to all the QUILTBAG people in North Carolina and elsewhere who are hurt by this travesty of a law enshrining theocratic hatred. As Hecate has pointed out, our hope today is that this setback is only a part of the bending of of the moral arc. In honor of these women and all the other people who have bent my personal arc, I recommit to getting out there and giving the universe some of what she calls dulcet, reasoned encouragement to bend, and soon. Now. So mote it be.