Dear Mrs. Clinton,
You don’t know me. I am just your average, everyday, middle-aged, HIV+, gay, white, male. I have a partner watching House Hunters in the living room, a Chihuahua passed out on a pillow near my feet, and a toddler asleep down the hall. I also have this blog here where I am sharing my journey from childhood to fatherhood. In it I am attempting to revisit and to reinvest in the truth of that journey with two goals in mind. First, I hope in the end to have a better understanding of what exactly this life has made of me, and second, I want to leave an honest account for my son. The work so far has been both challenging and rewarding. I do not like to deviate from my established objectives in this forum, but every now and then it seems that I am moved by certain current events to do so.
One such event was the recent release of your video for HRC’s American’s for Marriage Equality. It popped up on a friend’s Facebook feed, and by the time I had finished watching the six-minute clip I was so angry that my head was actually hot. Whatever that stuff is that fills the thin space between my brain and my skull – it literally felt like it was boiling. Confusing. I should be happy, right? Why was I not happy? I voted for you in the 2008 primary even though you, like President Obama, clearly said that you believed that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. There was no right choice for me back then, but in the end I had to make a decision and you were my contrary girl. Now you have come around, so why are my skull juices simmering?
I understand in the big political scope of things that gay marriage is positively trending. I am not shocked, or even judgmental, when people in positions like yours wait for others to secure safe passage before heading into dangerous territory themselves. I get that it’s all an end game full of posturing, polling, and pontificating. I am also aware that in the game there are inevitably going to be a number of pawns; those on the front line who are manipulated to insure self-preservation, or sacrificed for causes deemed more worthy than they. In addition, I have never underestimated your wisdom, cunning, and prowess, so I am not surprised to hear that you are finally jumping on the gay marriage bandwagon. On the contrary, I am amazed that it has taken you so long. With Proposition 8 and DOMA possibly headed to the gallows next week, perhaps you just decided that it would be wise to step into the marriage equality conga line between Republican Senator Rob Portman and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
All that taken into account, I still wasn’t quite sure specifically what it was about your YouTube, textbook flip-flop that sparked my rage. So after I had cooled down a bit I decided to watch your HRC video again – this time with a cautionary eye out for anything incendiary.
With a slightly righteous tone you begin, “A little over a year ago in Geneva I told the nations of the world that gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights, and that the United States would be a leader in defending those rights.”
Already my scalp is buzzing again. First of all, it’s too late for the United States to be a leader on this issue. When it comes to gay marriage we are already seven years behind our neighbors to the North – and Canada was not even first.
You continue with a bit of a smirk, “I believe that America is at it’s best when we champion the rights of every human being. That’s who we are. It’s in our DNA.”
That’s who we are? Really? Then why, since the day we arrived and started clearcutting Native Americans, have so many human beings had to step forward and fight for recognition under the Bill of Rights?
I remain at a low bubble until near the end when you say, “For those of us who lived through the long years of the civil rights and women’s rights movements, the speed with which more and more people have come to embrace the dignity and equality of LGBT Americans has been breathtaking and inspiring.”
Now I am at a rapid boil again. Somehow in your plight comparisons I feel diminished, or dismissed. Do you really believe that the speed with which more and more people have come to embrace the dignity and equality of my people has been breathtaking? Rosa Parks refused to get off of a bus in 1955, Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique in 1963, and the Stonewall Riots broke out in 1969. If those are the three groups that you have laid out for comparison, I think we are all nearly shoulder to shoulder to shoulder pad in the fray. When I consider the thousands of gay partners who were denied the rights of a spouse during the height of the plague, your effusive gloss-over borders on insulting. Bodies of loved ones were stolen away by family members who were given the right to deny access and closure to grieving survivors. That is breathtaking.
While I am happy to have you finally in the fight, you do not get to bear the standard. If not an apology, we are at least owed a more fleshed out and truthful explanation regarding your change of heart. More importantly, for the benefit of the conversations you mention that will continue around the family table and in the community square, you have more to share. I believe it is the process that brought you to this new belief, and not the resolve itself, which will help those still struggling to gain a deeper understanding.