I recently bought Ibrahim X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist.
I haven’t read very far. And yet, only a few pages in, I’m so grateful to have–thanks to Kendi–added the word “antiracist” to my vocabulary.
For years, I fumbled for words to explain to some white friends that their being quietly “color-blind” wasn’t really a kindness to people of color. The closest I could come, over and over again, was saying variations of, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train. Being quietly ‘color-blind’ doesn’t stop that hurtful train from rolling right over people.”
So many conversations. So many hours. So many words.
Finding the word “antiracist” brought me a sigh of relief: Silence is a vote for racism, while speaking up, with a passion for justice for all, is its opposite, antiracism.
Having the word “antiracist” helped me troubleshoot a related flaw in my own thinking elsewhere recently.
I got to thinking about how it’s obviously obvious to anyone who meets me for even three seconds that I wholeheartedly support equal rights for LGBTQI people–doesn’t almost everyone by now?!–when I caught myself mid-thought, flashed to Kendi, and went,
Wait, how exactly is it obvious to anyone?! How is this obvious to anyone who’s lost home, lost comfort, lost safety, lost the support of loved ones, because they had the audacity to … be themselves?!
The answer: It’s not obvious. It can’t be.
Seeing that, I also saw: I have a lot more to learn, and to do, and to say, to enact–to live–my commitment to human liberation.
Before that moment, I was exemplifying the same magical thinking behind color-blindness.
So I wanted to now, as one small step of the many I now intend to take toward being far from quiet about my passion for liberation,
share a picture of my son from a few years back,
with a post I wrote in 2011
(While I’ve since lost touch with those about whom I wrote,
I will forever be grateful for their loving care for me,
and for Li’l D in his youngest years.)
The (re)post can’t be the journey,
but it can sure be
Gay love. Or, as I like to call it, love.
Originally posted on TMiYC
October 8, 2011
I knew Stupendous long before I knew Terrific.
“Stu” and I? We took martial arts together a dozen years ago. “Terri,” on the other hand, came into my life five years ago. Just barely.
The evening we met concluded such a miserable day of work-related travel, I very nearly turned my rental car back toward my hotel and skipped our planned meeting. As I drove darkened rural roads on the outskirts of Cupertino, I cursed and swore but ultimately believed Stu’s assurances I was almost there. I really would find them, if I stayed the course.
I did find them. And though I could not see it then, finding them in person was an intrinsic piece of my finding my way to the beautiful, blessed life I live now.
When I moved to Los Angeles a year and a half after our Cupertino get-together, Stu and Terri had already beaten me to the Land-o’-Angels punch by several months. We started hanging out, casual friends with sporadically overlapping histories.
Somehow, somewhere, our casual friendship transformed itself into something else. There wasn’t a magical moment of transmogrification; rather, layer by imperceptible layer, we’d built from single-noodle buddydom to an entire 80-layer lasagna of chosen family.
Help moving into my new apartment? Check. Lobster dinner on Tupperware tubs? Check.
When a little boy’s body was discovered in a Dumpster behind my house, it was Stu and Terri who coaxed me to stay with them, where I would feel safe and loved, and not just distraught.
Later still, when I found out my “second mom” had leukemia, Stu and Terri respected my wishes to spend a weekend in silent contemplation–after they drove an hour to deliver a weekend’s worth of groceries, Dr. Pepper, hugs and words of love.
The two met my terror at learning I was pregnant with loving encouragement, despite my terror-related grumpiness. On their way back from San Diego, where they’d been when they received my frantic phone call, they stopped by my apartment with groceries and a sweet quote about motherhood being about building love from chaos. They told me they had total faith in me, come what may, and that they would do anything in their power to ease my path ahead.
The days since have been overflowing with examples of their doing just that. So abundant are these examples, a testament to Stu and Terri’s powerful love, that there was no question I’d ask them to be my son’s godmothers.
Yes, his godmothers. Two women who love each other–and Li’l D–very much.
This is as right and natural to me as is my sister and her husband being together. It’s so right, I hardly ever think about it. When I do think about it, it’s because I’ve seen words like “perversity,” “sin,” and “immorality” coupled with words like “gay” or “queer.”
After my shock at these bizarre word combinations subsides, I wonder, “Where the heck does this even come from? Do I live in the same world as the folks who wrote this stuff?”
If you saw Stu or Terri love on my little one like he’s their own–which, in very real, very enduring ways, he is–words like “sin” and “perversity” would be the last words on your mind. In fact, if you’re like me, you’d find you have no room in your head for words at all. You’d be way too busy marveling at the goodness of being part of, and bearing witness to, that love. Too busy remembering being lost five years ago on a road outside Cupertino, and being, without even knowing it at the time, on the verge of truly being found.
If I die too early to see my little man become a full-grown man, Stu and Terri’s stupendous, terrific love is wonderfully, precisely, perfectly everything I want my son to know I felt for him, too.
That’s love, baby. Not orange love. Not zombie love. Not gay love.
This post inspired by the below quote:
“It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage. Or, as I like to call it: Marriage. You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not gay lunch. I parked my car; I didn’t gay park it.”
— Liz Feldman