Largely because the boyfriend wants “attention” and insists that we need to do “yard work,” I’m skipping an epic ride somewhere and writing this quick post. I’m writing to remind myself of the real reason I’m riding in the AIDS/LifeCycle. During fundraising last year, I wrote a similar article: “Ride Yourself Some Civil Rights” and feel the same now as I did then: we are winning our fight for equality.
When I was a kid in high school, I knew I was gay. I didn’t have the words for it, I didn’t have the context out there in rural Connecticut. But I knew I liked men, fairies, hiking, arguing, reading, and all the other things that kids my age liked, with the possible exception of watching sports on TV. I knew I was the same and knew I was different. For no reason I can describe, it was the differences that seemed to define me. I always felt like an alien being.
As I grew up, I realized that at least part of the difference was my homosexuality. Being gay was something I couldn’t let anybody know. Again, I really didn’t even know why, but I knew. All through my teens and into my early twenties, I felt an underlying guilt about my sexual orientation and had no real way to address it.
Not until I moved to San Francisco in 1991, that is. There, I learned of our shared and beautiful history. I learned about the gay rights movement; I learned about Harvey Milk; I learned that I wasn’t the only person with the same hopes and fears. I learned that it was OK to be gay.
I ride in the ALC because as I do, each and every person riding beside me has felt the same at one point or another — straight, transgendered, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, and gay alike, either for themselves or for others. I ride because, come what may, this is my family and my home. I ride because I never want another person to fear alone in the dark as I once did.
But they still do, don’t they? So we can’t stop riding until every person who needs services in California gets them. We can’t stop riding until every person out there knows and loves a gay, lesbian, or transgendered person. We can’t stop riding until the bigots have lost.
So, riding is an act of defiance and pride. Defiance because I know that not every person we pass is pleased to have us there. Pride because as time passes and as the prejudices which kept us down in the past recede, we step forward and prove that we are equal members of society.
So, though we still have a long way to go, I’m riding because the destination is not reached.
P.S.: Its important to see how much further we’ve come in just the past 12 months. Four states — not California yet, sadly — have voted in favor of gay marriage. The President came out against DOMA and implored the Supreme Court to uphold gay marriage, and has done more than any prior President for gay rights.