On the face of it, that statement seems easily proven. If you’ve suffered through the past two weeks of ice and snow here in Central Indiana, it would be hard to imagine this as a Californian beach. But in other respects, some seem to have the two confused.
Over a cold pint last night, one of my colleagues reiterated a common theme from the Eric Miller-Micah Clark- Curt Smith Unholy Trinity of Traditional Theology and Political Bait and Switch Shops, namely that whatever happens in California will eventually happen in Indiana too. I refrained from pointing out the lightning speed with which Hoosiers adapted to DST. (Ok, most of us will never adapt, just grumblingly submit while hoping for more sunlight.)
The Troika of Traditionalism like to claim that Indiana MUST pass a marriage discrimination amendment so that the judicial activism of California (and sometimes they malign Massachusetts as well) don’t overwhelm the local state court system causing gay marriages to spontaneously occur throughout Delphi, Walkerton and Tell City. They’d like to portray our state court system as some sort of Liberal Paradise without moral or local rooting, like some hothouse transplant from the People’s Republic of Vermont.
Well, I just happened to get an upclose look at one of these proceedings this past week, when the Appellate Court of Indiana held a hearing in West Lafayette. It was an interesting case of search and seizure potentials, but the key for me was watching these judges grill both sides. There was no easily identifiable liberal bias, in fact, one of the judges was more folksy in presentation than even yours truly. (I really need to buy more flannel, I think.)
But a barrister would argue that we have to look at court cases and not demeanor, as a judge is NOT supposed to reveal personal bias from the bench. Ok, in that regard this very court has already decided Morrison v. Sadler against the gay and lesbian couple plantiffs. It’s unlikely that any case could come up in the near future to overturn this, since the court held that the Equal Protection Clause of the Indiana Constitution does not apply to marriage—null and void. It seems logical to me that it would – but the Right Wing will tell you that they have to make sure this provision for the protection of minority rights is permanently dead. Ok, stick another fork in the corpse, but unenforceable means dead in legal terms.
So you might ask, what has spurred my outpouring on the marriage topic, since I am loathe to deal with it any more? (Even a state senator who shall remain nameless confided in me in whispered tones that this thing should just go away.) Last night I attended the opening night of MILK in Lafayette. Who said we’re always behind the times?
Now, I’ve seen the movie once before, so there were no surprises. Except that I bawled like a schoolgirl once again. (That might be too harsh on schoolgirls.) The sobbing began at the scene where Harvey talks to a young man who is contemplating suicide in Minnesota –and he can’t get away from his parents due to a wheelchair. I know that dramatic license may have been used, but this scene just pulled me back to why we all have to redouble our efforts on all fronts.
You know there are young people all over Indiana watching what we do. They may never know the names or the petty bickerings between leaders and blogs. But in the end, they will know whether they have been labeled sick, twisted, in need of fixing. They will know whether it is safe for them to live freely and openly in their own town. They learn how to hide themselves anyway, doncha know.
I can recall Kyle – a shy smaller boy who began to get harassed at a young age for not being athletic. He probably knew fairly early on that he was gay, but began to use sarcastic dark humor to create a shell to protect himself. This boy was never really able to be reached through that shell, and between depression and attempted suicide has suffered for years to get his life together.
Aaron was another boy who was much more loud and flippant. He figured he wouldn’t take anyone’s guff and simply throw it back in the faces of his detractors until his dad beat the living &^% out of him. He escaped as soon as he could, and still struggles today to get his education.
I could detail the cases of many others I watched, counseled, prayed for and worry about still today all around the Greater Lafayette area. And these are just the kids who knew someone personally they could talk with. You probably know adults who are still suffering even though they escaped those situations. They had to leave, because no one would stand up for them where they were. No one said, “Enough!”
MILK has many great messages. Two that stuck with me after two viewings are
ONE) we are not alone. We are in this great crusade together and everyone has something to offer. But we don’t get a pass to continue living our lives in relative ease in a city to where we escaped and not try to make a difference for those who come behind. And the actions of those with ability and mobility are being watched by those who need help.
TWO) we have lost something as a community. We’re more harsh toward each other and we don’t seem to have the common binds that once made it clear how much we owe each other. Something as simple as the gay greeting – a big hug upon meeting—seems to have passed a bit. We can’t afford to lose each other. And we can’t afford to throw away the mentoring of the generation which has been here a while either. They just might have some ideas of how things work.
But ya know, Indiana is NO California. In small ways, we still connect much more in this small community. Last night I went to the Pride Center downtown for a Soup Night fundraiser. Saw so many good people, most friends, good camaraderie – partners on local and state projects and people who are just there to help out their fellow man. But look, these people can’t afford to be out, to live freely and openly in most of this state. And it’s time that changed.
My favorite moment in MILK is where Harvey tells the crowd, “Ya gotta give’em hope.” THAT is what we do when we stand up and say NO to the forces who think they can recreate some fairty tale image of 1950s America where queers do not exist. So tonight for every Hoosier kid who fears someone finding them out, for every adult who fears losing his job or custody of her kid, let’s remember that as we roll up our sleeves to fight the coming fight – they need us.
Enjoy that with your sugar cream, Senator!