Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two Allies

I've been quite moved by the way straight allies have stepped up to support same-sex couples in the fight over Prop 8, both before and after the election. Something feels monumental in how this is happening -- the tide is turning, but this time, it's not going back.

I know there are thousands of examples out there, but I wanted to mention two people in particular:

Keith Olbermann. His November 10 Special Comment had me sobbing. Here's this straight guy (down to the major sports fan stereotype) who totally got it. He truly didn't understand why anyone would feel compelled to stamp out someone else's love. It was all he could do to contain his own emotion enough to get through the words. His heart was broken on our behalf, and as his voice quivered, it released some of my pain.
    Olbermann also had a segment on December 5th about "Prop 8 - The Musical", with spot-on comments from straight allies Jack Black and John C. Reilly (as well as nelly queen Mark Shaiman, who composed the brilliant piece).

Jon Stewart. In the second half of his December 9 interview with Mike Huckabee, he completely undercut the former Governor's position on same-sex marriage while managing to keep his tone completely respectful. The moment that stood out for me, though, was when he took Huckabee to task for saying that same-sex couples need to make our case to the American people in order to have our rights. Jon Stewart wasn't having it.

Olbermann's Special Comment and Stewart's "make their case" moment share a theme for me -- at a fundamental level, they stood up for my humanity. They spoke of my life and my love as worthy of respect. They accorded me the dignity that every human being deserves simply by virtue of being alive.

That's what it gets down to, and it's really not much to ask. We just want to be treated with dignity. Unfortunately, humans are remarkably bad at it -- a recent article argued quite persuasively that this one-up-one-down dynamic (which the authors dub "rankism") lies at the root of all "isms."

What Jon Stewart and Keith Olbermann have done is reminded me that my inherent worth will never hinge on a vote -- it's nothing I ever need to argue for, and no one can take it away from me. By affirming our dignity in such a high-profile way, they've not only influenced potential allies who'd never given the issue much thought, but also sent a life preserver to queers like me. We're not in this struggle alone.

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