Today was a very intense, draining day. I'm not quite sure where to begin, or even that I really want to talk about it all. I think I may cry if I do -- not in a dramatic way, but just because this is very tough emotionally, and I think all the gay/bisexual people who go to UMF and saw Michael Heath speak tonight feel at least somewhat the same.
Michael Heath, first of all, is the spearhead of the "yes on one"-repeal-the-anti-discrimination-law that Maine Won't Discriminate (http://www.mainewontdiscriminate.org
) has been working very, very hard to counter. His blog is http://www.mikeheath.net
, and the organization he heads is the Christian Civic League of Maine -- http://www.cclmaine.org
. Please visit these sites to understand what we are fighting against, but basically, he believes that homosexuality is wrong because of roots in the Bible, and that homosexuals should not make their sexuality known and that granting us the same civil protections in education, employment, housing, and credit already afforded to everyone else in the state of Maine would be making us a special, recognized class and majority that will pave the way for same-sex marriage. He is very visible in the state of Maine -- people know who he is, and he people listen to him and believe the things that he says.
We had a rally today for the No on One campaign. Literally every second of my day today I was working on the rally and Michael Heath's speech tonight: planning, running around with Jeanine and Tracie and the MWD bigwig, Jocelyn (who's awesome, btw), and hanging up posters and making signs and talking to people. The rally was very, very empowering; we had a crowd of at LEAST 100 people all in green shirts to represent the colors of our campaign, and people were cheering as Tracie and I were welcoming them to the rally. It was so amazing. We had two amazing speakers who talked about how Michael Heath's views do NOT represent the entire faith community, and I was so, so proud of everyone who went, and especially proud of Jeanine and Tracie.
Michael Heath's speech was difficult. I respect him a lot, because he struck me as a calm, intelligent, (mostly) decent man who just happens to be very, very, very misguided and close-minded in his viewpoints. He unfortunately brought along this douchebag pastor friend of his, Paul Madore, the leader of the Maine Grassroots Coalition (oh boy, do I love them!), who, contrasting Michael Heath's intellectual manner, was very much the fire-and-brimstone-homosexuals-must-die sort of reverend, and he was spitting and raising his voice and talking about how homosexuality is wrong. There were a few rows of older men and women with "yes on one - vote no on same-sex marriage!" signs in the auditorium with the sea of green, and they were really, really tough to see because I know my parents would have been sitting with them, especially my fucking father. Everything that was coming out of Paul Madore's mouth I've heard come from my father's mouth.
I went up to Michael Heath after his speech was over and I thanked him for coming and said that I thought it was important for his viewpoint to be heard and for both sides to be represented, which it is. He said something in his speech about the strength and the freedom of our nation being derived from its bipartisan and multi-structural government, and I agree. I also thanked the Republicans for bringing him to UMF -- and I'll admit all of this was pretty much for show because I wanted him to see that the MWD folks are not evil and that this doesn't have to be a war of good vs. evil or what-have-you. Michael Heath said to me that I was "nicely-decorated" (I was covered in "NO ON ONE" stickers and rainbows and I had a shirt on advertising his speech and the rally and various things declaring my sexuality all over me) and that he "liked" my shirt. I shook his hand. It was very surreal, but it was something I felt like I had to do.
Somebody from a local paper interviewed me after Michael Heath's speech. That was pretty exhilarating.
Today was National Coming-Out Day as well, and that was a little bit scary, because, for the first time ever, I really asserted my sexuality to people who may not know me and may be judging me solely based on my sexual orientation. Taking that step is really, really scary to do -- I feel like I'm putting an integral part of myself out there and that people can possibly take it and target me for it or use it against me. I wrote "I am gay" on the sleeve of my Michael-Heath-sucks shirt today, and someone painted "Kiss me, I'm gay" on one of my cheeks. A lot of times lately, especially when I've been visible because of campaign stuff and I'm getting to know more and more people at UMF, I've felt kind of ... ashamed or afraid to make my sexuality known because, right now, I'm still in the early-to-intermediate stages of fully coming to terms with it myself, and that part of my self-identity is still very uncertain and fragile. I'm very much a fuck-you-I-am-exactly-who-I-am-and-I-
me type of person, but this is different. This is a part of me that was very difficult for me to acknowledge and embrace to begin with, and it makes my heart pound to think that it may be the sole factor that shapes some people's view of who I am. I am so proud to be every part of who I am -- so, so
proud. And I am this whole person besides this part of me -- and I was this whole, entire person before
I came out -- and if I might be so bold, anyone who would discard me as a friend or an acquaintance or a human being solely because I am gay is missing out on one hell of a person.
And to close, I just want to paste in here what my friend Matt -- one of the Republicans in the UMF College Republicans who invited Michael Heath to come to UMF to speak ... Matt fucking INTRODUCED Michael Heath before he spoke -- said to me because it made me feel good:scarface161616
: thank you andrea, you were excellent tonight, I was very proud of you, and thank your people too, it went extremly well and I was impressed
Several people have said that they are proud of me (Steph, I don't think I can tell you how much I appreciate that you said that to me), and it makes a world of difference to me to know that people care about this issue and care about what we are doing -- and it makes up for the fact that my parents would not approve of this at all and that they are not proud of who I have become and all of the amazing things I have accomplished. But I guess what it comes down to is that, hey, I'm pretty damn proud of who I am and of the things that I am accomplishing. Finally, I feel like I'm making a difference.
P.S. Jeanine (jeaninemarie
), you are SO amazing and I am so fucking proud of you for all of the things that you do. And Cassie (cassafras01
) and Andrea 1 (dreondacourts
), you are both remarkable women -- I can't believe the way you pulled today together and planned everything AND the way you support MWD. And Chris (nomor3drama03
) and Stacy (astarcynite
) and Amanda (pookies_revenge
) I am so proud of all of you for being able to stand up for what you believe in and for not being afraid to be who you are. And Andrea 2 (stutter_lust
) -- thank you for EVERYTHING. You were my sanity during the Michael Heath speech, and afterward you made me feel like it was okay that I was feeling all these things. And finally, Steph (lilopeashy
) -- thank you for being so ... just ... good.