Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It Takes One to Know One - Marriage Equality in New York State

I've come to blog here the past several days attempting to say something that hasn't already been said. I've spent quite a bit of time calling Senators, asking all my friends to call Senators, reading other blogs, posting comments, participating in certain threads where my time could have been better spent smashing my head into a brick wall, etc. You get the point.

The long and short of it is this.

There's nothing I can say here that hasn't already been said on various Senators personal Facebook pages (Senator Dean Skelos, Senator Greg Ball), or on The Huffington Post comment section of Sarah's Op-Ed, "My Children Have Everything...Except Married Parents.

I've read many inspiring posts from people all over New York who are in favor of Equality. And, unfortunately, I've read some posts from people against Equality. Thankfully, the posts against Equality are outnumbered, at least on the places I'm surfing the web (which are all the places I've listed above).

Usually the anti-equality posts are religiously fueled, and more often than not contain grammatical and spelling errors...I'm just saying. And I've yet to read a single post from that side of the argument that is strong enough to deny any human being their civil rights.

What those posts against Equality have done for me, however, is they've reminded me of what it was like growing up gay.

I've said it before, and I meant it, I didn't realize I was gay until I was nineteen. My brain couldn't even internalize the thought of being gay, that's how abhorent a concept it was for me. I buried it so deep down that I never once had a conscious inkling of it until I was in college. 

I learned to fear being gay from the world I lived in. Nobody ever told me directly, "Kristen, don't be gay. It's a very bad thing." Yet, the noxious homophobic gas pumped into our society's air that I was breathing in on a daily basis made me know for sure that it was a really really bad thing to be.

I knew it.

You knew it.

And some people still think it.

So I'd like to share this story from my childhood with all the people who are posting against Equality. Even though I know none of you read my blog. This is my attempt to say something that hasn't already been said - or - This is me bashing my head against a brick wall again. Here goes:

Dear People Unwilling to Give Me My Equal Rights,

When I was growing up I was a tom boy.

Every kid has "their" reason for why they feel different. The kid with the acne, the kid with the hair that's too curly, the too fat kid, the too skinny kid, the kid with the thick glasses, the poor kid, and on and on.

Anyway. I was the kid who felt awkward every time my girlfriends wanted to do girly things. I didn't want to wear makeup or carry a Le Sports Sac. I wasn't comfortable with designer jeans, or leg warmers, or capezios. Every day I wore my Lee Jeans and Pro-Keds. That was my uniform, day in and day out. While it doesn't sound that bad, every day I got dressed I thought about how different I felt.

I know. Whoopeeding. I wasn't picked on. I would have picked on you first. And I wasn't bullied. I would have bullied you first. Think about that for a second, anti-equality person posting on the internet.

I was an athlete. I loved sports. I played every season. I lived for it.

One season, my high school coach was a lesbian. We didn't know this because she was "out." We knew this because she looked like a dyke - I'm just going to use the word. She was very stereotypically lesbian looking in every way.

She threatened me to my core.

But I was 15 years old and I had coping mechanisms in place to be sure I was not affected by her existence at all. 

What I did was write a "funny jingle" for everyone on the team to sing. It was a song about how gross and abhorent our scary lesbian coach was. And I would sing it.

The memory is so overwhelming for me that it stops me dead in my tracks. Fifteen year old me felt I had to sing a song about the grossness of my lesbian coach so that my teammates, and I for that matter, wouldn't catch on that I was a lesbian too.

Fear. Breeds. Intolerance. Fear. Breeds. Hatred. Fear. Breeds. Bullies.

Much worse things have come from fear than a really bad jingle sung in a high school locker room.

We have an opportunity to alleviate some of the fear that maybe your fifteen year old son or daughter or niece or nephew or neighbor might feel one day. That alone should be enough reason to vote for Equality.



  1. Kristen, awesome, honest post. I feel with the entire debates lately, and reading about it...I don't understand why this is a issue. For all the people against human rights and anti-gay, I say to them " watch it, it could happen to you in a heart-beat. Your human rights to be which you are could be flattened just as quick." And to the religious fanatics I say "we are all equal, don't go throwing stones,". Because I have many "gay" friends ( I also hate labeling as such...but for this post response), I'm always saddened think they get mad, frustrated and sad because state laws, idiot peoples prejudice. Anyway, I could keep going ..but I wont. For now ill say, to any naysayers out there....be kind, promote equality, always lay it on your congressman! No state should have this much control over anyone wanting to say "I do"

  2. Kristen, your High School experience sounds a lot like mine. I also didn't realize I was lesbian til I was 19.

    When I was little, when all the girls wanted to play barbies, I'd only play if I could be Ken. When they wanted to play house I automatically took the role of the husband or the son.

    In HS my best friend and I moved our lockers away from two girls that were rumored to be lesbians. I didn't like them and didn't want to be near them, yet I didn't even know them. It was that irrational fear that made me dislike them.

    My senior year of HS my best friend and I wanted to go to the prom with each other. There were no guys that we wanted to go with. As it turned out, this was an issue for the school. They had to have a meeting about whether we could go or not. They said no. They said they "couldn't be responsible for what people said". I missed out on one of my biggest HS experiences because of their fear and anti-equality issues.

  3. I also I fgured it out "late"...even going so far as to be scared back into the closet during college. I couldn't even utter the words. I don't know why it seemed so foreign to me, after all I had a couple of gay friends in high school, a gay teacher (oh, the rumors about him), and a lot in college, but the fear kept me from being honest with myself. Looking back, I don't know how I missed it...

    Hopefully, equality will become more than a pipe dream and future generations won't even feel the need to announce that they are gay/straight/bisexual/transgender/whatever...that it will just be taken for what it is.

    Even now, I find myself being careful with what I say at work because I have a lot of ultra conservative coworkers. I know that I should just be myself, but at the same time I don't want to hear the lectures/comments.

    I suppose it doesn't help that I live in a state that had marriage equality, then the people voted to repeal it.

  4. you rock... nothing more to say as this blog entry speaks for itself... thank you for being so real...

  5. nice post roomie. nice post. im proud to stand next to you as often as i do.

  6. Didn't know until I was 24 . . . and always knew. At the same time.

  7. Thank you for writing this. Really.

  8. Well said Kristen. I had a similar experience. Memories of being a gay teenager are just plain awful. I think I knew when I was maybe 10 but knew I could never say anything to anyone. You just knew not to. I often wonder how I knew that. I've been with my partner for 7 years and am almost to the point where I refuse to go to any more straight weddings until RI does something about the marriage issue. They actually might pass a Civil Union bill soon which I think is more infuriating than doing nothing. Anyway, I really appreciate reading your blog posts. You ladies are wicked cool. Come play RI again soon!

  9. thank you for sharing this. really.

  10. So you'll be able to tie the knot as early as late July! Are you and Sarah planning an August wedding?

  11. I love you cousin! I loved you when you were 15 and love you now. Thomas and Kate are so lucky to have you (the evolved you) and Sarah as loving parents... Who finally have your civil rights...


  12. Awesome Post! Very well written and stated! I am so happy for you and the rest of the GTLB community in NY. Now lets hope that the rest of the US will soon follow and make the right choice and allow every one the chance to marry the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with.

  13. I really appreciate this post more than any of the others that I've read because you admitted that you weren't always on your current side of the fence. When I was 13 years old one of my best friends trusted me enough to tell me that she was a lesbian. I had known for a year or so that I was attracted to girls as well as boys, but I grew up in a Christian family and that was a big no no. Because I was so disgusted with myself, I pushed my friend away and didn't give her the support and love that she deserved. I regret that mistake every day of my life. I came out of the closet as being bisexual when I was 17 years old in a new town in a new school, and was received by my new friends with open arms. I felt guilty that I'd been shown the very love that I'd denied my friend, who had stood by me through so many hardships at an age when every little thing is the end of the world. I fight so strongly for gay rights now because I have been against myself and there is no greater enemy. Thank you for your honesty! I'm so proud to be one of your fans!