Scroll To Top

A Generation
Wakes Up 

A Generation
Wakes Up 


For many the passing of Prop. 8 is the first time anything of significance has gone so wrong for gays and lesbians -- we've had no other choice but to stand up and fight. This weekend 12,000 people-plus descended on Los Angeles's Silver Lake district, proving that when faced with discrimination, if the gays have to choose between equal rights and a rum and diet Coke, they may fill up a flask -- but they'll march.

Maybe it was the sign of a half dozen patients at Los Angeles's Children's Hospital banging on the windows, flashing the peace sign, and waving at the crowd. Maybe it was the hundreds of gay people who sat down in the middle of Sunset Boulevard on Saturday night to demand that police officers stand down and allow the march to move west into Hollywood's heavily trafficked nightlife district. Maybe it was simply that I'd never seen 12,000-plus gay people stand so strongly behind the fight for civil rights before.

Maybe it was a combination of all three. I'm not really sure what it was. I just know that Saturday at 7:32 p.m., four days after California voters passed Proposition 8, I broke down.

I'm used to friends who choose a trip to the bar over the opening of an art exhibit. People my age who consider Eating Out and Mean Girls classic gay cinema while Longtime Companion and Gods & Monsters are relegated to "boring art-house flick" status. I hear too often from people my age and younger that AIDS is a thing of the past -- at least in terms of fighting for funding and visibility -- and that while the desire to get married is admirable, civil unions will do just fine in a pinch.

I guess I've just become accustomed to people not caring -- or caring peripherally. You write a check, attend a function, and you move on, as if "don't ask, don't tell" or the gay homeless crisis or the subject of marriage could be magically solved over cocktail hour. Not until the shit hits the fan (and I mean really hits the fan) does anyone wake up.

On Saturday some 12,000 people descended on Silver Lake -- old, young, black, white, Latino, Asian, gay, straight...the list goes on. There were speeches; news crews flooded the streets. Sunset Junction was virtually locked down for hours while we stood there, united, telling California that constitutionally denying a class of people their civil rights is unacceptable, and that no matter how long it takes -- no matter how many times we need to fight -- we aren't going to take it.

It finally hit me.

Prop. 8 had passed. The energy we needed before the campaign came after it, and while mainstream media will try to pit us against each other by blaming certain demographics whose votes leaned conservative while urging us to blame the Mormon Church, we did this to ourselves, in some ways. We didn't fight hard enough, we didn't fight smart enough, and while some of us were off to battle, more of us stayed home.

Not anymore. Saturday night was proof of that. When the police tried to steer us back into Silver Lake ("You can march, as long as you keep it in your little gay bubble," one woman suggested the police mentality might be), the group of protesters stood its ground, insisting we be allowed to take the rally onto the streets of Hollywood -- it finally happened, albeit later and with a smaller group. We chanted, we talked, we hugged, we cheered -- and yes, we cried (at least in my case).

It's become bigger than me -- and bigger than each of you reading this. It's about us now. As a community. Not pointing fingers, not even necessarily about a piece of legislation called Prop. 8 anymore.

I mean, sure, when Californians spoke, it hurt...deeply. But I don't know that the outcome of a no vote would have done our community any favors. I've never seen this kind of passion at a pride festival. I don't expect that people take to the streets in quite the same way in memory of Stonewall.

With Prop. 8 passing and gay marriage banned in California, suddenly people are talking about what they could have done -- what they should have done. Gays and lesbians who live their lives in safe gay bubbles finally know what us vs. them looks like -- that not everyone is "OK" with being gay. People in smaller cities who face that reality every day finally feel like they have something in common with us "city folks." Hospital visitation, adoption rights, tax breaks...we get some of that with civil unions, but it isn't the same. And in Arizona, Florida, and Arkansas, now it's even worse.

People are pissed off, riled up, letting their guard down and showing that when faced with discrimination, if they have to choose between equal rights and a rum and diet Coke, they may fill up a flask -- but they'll march.

The community is united like never before, and I, for the first time in a long time, am thrilled to be a card-carrying member. I've been out and proud before, but never like this.

Workdays don't end -- they just sort of bleed into that time after work when I talk to friends and family about where we go next. Blogs turn into articles, rallies into photo ops...even friends' birthday parties that have been on the books for weeks are suddenly impromptu fund-raisers to combat this hateful amendment to the California constitution.

It's an amazing time to be out, proud, and gay. I'm done taking it for granted.

You could say a generation of gays and lesbians finally woke up.

Now we just have to make sure we stay awake.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Ross von Metzke