Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Living with a target on your back

By Diane Silver

You wake up in the morning, rushed as always and get your 10-year-old son out of the door to school. He's fed, on time and even has his math homework stuffed in his backpack, all of which is a miracle of sorts. After he's gone, you pull on your winter coat and gloves and hope the car will start in this blasted cold. When you finally get to work, the phone calls and the meetings are a relief. You've been a single parent since breast cancer killed your life partner three years ago, and the challenges you face at the office are nothing compared to the challenges you see at home

Or perhaps... You're late. You'd promised you would be at the hospital a half an hour ago, and even though 30 minutes doesn't sound like much, you regret every instant you aren't with your partner. But the bills are piling up now that you're down to one income, and you had to work late. Your son needed attention before you took him to a play date. When you dropped him off, you had thank the mother and father of your son's friend. You had to update them on your lover's condition, pretending all the time that you don't feel the razors cutting into you heart as you speak.

Or perhaps... You're alone. Your son is in college now. You just gave him a toolbox for his birthday so he could fix up his rented house. He comes by once a week for dinner. (Got to make certain he has those necessary fruits and vegetables). You hear about books and classes, papers and finals, new ideas, frustrations and hopes. He's funny and caring. He even saves his money. You wonder in amazement if you did something right as a parent, after all.

And you wake one morning and pick up the newspaper ... Or you turn on the radio ... Someone who's never met you says he knows you. He says the fact that you exist, that your son exists, your late life partner existed is so vile, so threatening that he's coming after you.

He has to make certain that the son you love, the partner for whom you sacrificed could never, ever be called a family.

He has to guarantee that the legal and financial benefits given to other families are kept from yours.

He gets what he wants. His ideas are written into the Kansas Constitution. Your family is so horrifying, it seems, that protection from it must be burned into our most basic law.

And you tell yourself to take a deep breath. You tell yourself it's OK; you'll survive. Your people have always gotten by, living in the cracks of society.

And then you pick up the newspaper... Or you turn on the radio ...

And this man who was not with you when you when you sat up all night holding your infant son when he was sick ... and as you held your life partner's hand as she was dying ... this man says he's coming after you again.

It's the children he wants now, or maybe your job, or your friend's job. The problem you see is that you aren't doing exactly what he wants you to do; you're not working in the job he wants you to have.

You wonder what it will take to make this man feel whole, to make him feel safe. Will he have to harass your son for no other reason than the fact that he was born into your family? Will this man have to orphan children? Take away jobs? Will it satisfy him if you, your mortgage, your overworked exhaustion, your skills, your talents, your love and your friends are finally run out of this state?

And you wonder what you will lose next.

And you wonder when it will end.

This is a rather rough follow-up to Being A Target.

Mike said...
Excellent writing...very honest, and very true...I wish every non-LGBT person could read what you wrote, and really UNDERSTAND, but alas...Maybe one person will, and for that you have my heartfelt appreciation.
9:00 PM
Nancy Jane Moore said...
Powerful writing -- you've let us see the actual effect of what seems on the surface to be an abstract political debate. As you point out, daily life is hard enough without being under attack.I am personally most concerned about the Constitutional amendments, and to a lesser degree the laws declaring marriage to be "between a man and a woman." The existence of these laws mean that it will be more difficult to change things even when the tide starts to shift in favor of gay marriage.And the tide will shift. The fight will be tough and there will be holdouts, but in the future -- and in our lifetimes -- the legal situation will change. You'll still have enemies who hate you even though they never met you, but you'll have legal protection, at least.Granted, I write as a straight person in a blue almost-state (Washington, D.C.) that would probably allow gay marriage and even give gay couples tax breaks if Congress would let us. (Unlike other citizens of this country, we in Washington cannot pass any laws that Congress doesn't like.) But I am confident that the times are changing -- not fast enough, but changing.
7:45 AM
Tracy said...
'the partner for whom you sacrificed could never, ever be called a family.'Remove these few words, re-read it and use your imagination.Who is this about now? A Muslim? An athiest? Someone addicted to drugs? A mixed-race couple?Could it be all of the above?
10:48 AM
Nilbo said...
Thank you for this. It's a painful topic, I'm sure, and you write about it with such insight, such love, and such forgiveness. I wish so many "Christians" could be half so forgiving.
8:35 AM

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