Scroll To Top
World

We are all like
immigrants

We are all like
immigrants

Schumaker_4

As this Southern California soccer mom and lesbian continues her walk from San Diego to San Francisco, an encounter at a Mexican restaurant reminds her that visibility is everything--to immigrant rights as well as LGBT rights. A fourth weekly dispatch from the road.

Soccer mom Jennifer Schumaker's plan to walk the 569 miles from San Diego to San Francisco "evolved from a very simple thought," she tells The Advocate. "Three years ago I let a man reenter a line for coffee, and I thought, He has no idea that a lesbian was nice to him today."

Thereafter, Jennifer began coming out to everyone she had even passing contact with in her life.

The Escondido, Calif., carpool mom is now raising her visibility campaign to another level: walking most of the way up the California coastline and coming out to everyone she meets along the way. She left San Diego on April 8 and plans to reach San Francisco on June 3, where she'll meet out state assemblyman Mark Leno.

Along the way, she'll be calling in to The Advocate each week to tell her story.

The week started out wonderfully--taking a day off with my children at the Santa Monica Pier. My friend Fernando Lopez-Sager was nice enough to drive them up from Escondido to see me. It was so great to see them and so hard to say goodbye to them and move on.

Then the walk continued. I had no idea the Malibu coastline extended so far. Every time I thought I had finally crossed out of Malibu into Ventura County, I'd see another sign about Malibu. Don't get me wrong, Malibu is beautiful, but with my feet hurting and my body aching I look forward to milestones like crossing from one county to the next.

I passed the barbed wire around the naval station at Point Hueneme and wondered whether the fence was there to keep the sailors in or me out.

I'm stepping over roadkill a lot now. I almost stepped into a pelican carcass.

And I'm getting honked at a lot. What's that supposed to mean? Do I look like their cousin?

At one point an African-American woman stopped to make sure I was OK. She said, "You don't often see women alone out in the middle of nowhere." I told her about my walk and asked her if any of her family members were gay, and rather than issuing a flat denial she said, "No, not that I know of."

I think this is progress. People are at least open to the idea.

The California Highway Patrol officer who was kind enough to let me take his photo after asking me to take a different route.

On another day, I got rerouted when I had strayed onto a stretch of Route 1 that became a freeway. The California Highway Patrol officer was very understanding and didn't ticket me, but instead directed me to the frontage road. He was reading my many buttons of gay and trans support.

I walked past miles of farmworkers in the fields and had lots of time to reflect on what their reality might be.

I found myself having lunch at a little mom-and-pop Mexican restaurant, where I met Javier. I told him about my mission and I asked him if he thought that immigrants and gay folks could get along. He said, "Yes," and holding each hand out to symbolize the groups, continued, moving the one hand, "People don't see us. People don't see immigrants. And people don't see gay people." He brought his hands together and clasped them. "We can work together and we can help each other."

Javier and I discuss our common ground at the Mexican restaurant where he works.

I thought, If we could just take that moment and multiply it and multiply it. With all of the talk of immigrants' rights and demonstrations these days, Javier's sentiment touched me deeply.

I had to take a little side trip back to Burbank to be a guest on On Topic With Chrisanne Eastwood on the QTV Network, which was fun. I had also been interviewed by the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, but I am not sure that it aired. That's the problem with being on the move; I often don't know what has happened after I'm gone from an area.

When I reach the 200-mile mark in Santa Barbara this Wednesday, the mayor (a fellow Unitarian Universalist) is planning to welcome me to her city.

As told to Walter G. Meyer

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Jennifer Schumaker