For Write to Marry Day:
When the courts shot down San Francisco’s bold move to legalize gay marriage nearly five years ago, I wrote a post on an Ani DiFranco livejournal community telling a simple story from my childhood. Now that gay marriage has been legalized, and people would like to take it away from those I consider my friends (so of them such precious friends that I consider them my family), I want to tell it again because I think it’s a poignant image of what No on Prop. 8 means to me.
Picture two little girls. One of them is me; the other is one of my two best friends. We must be about twelve as this story begins. She and I had met in the fourth grade and had been inseparable ever since. We went to dance class together. We did each other’s hair. She introduced me to Billie Holiday, and I introduced her to Donna Jo Napoli. We had always been at once precocious and ridiculous–upon hearing that Silly Putty had been invented in an attempt to find a substitute for rubber, we bought some and experimented upon it with lemon juice and vinegar, hoping to take it that one extra chemical reaction step and save the planet. Together we read the feminist puberty books our mothers had given us, giggling about the idea of sex. Classic girlfriends.
In any case, this one day, which has stayed in my memory ever since, we passed by a shop that had wedding dresses in the window. I pointed one out, admiring its simplicity. She had a different favorite; she wanted a froofier dress. As we walked along, we described our dream dresses, our dream weddings. We fantasized about honeymoons in Venice or Capri. Of course, you could argue that we were two young girls brainwashed with the idea that marriage was the key to some kind of ultimate fulfillment, but ignoring that, it was a pretty cute scene of two twelve-year-olds acting, well, twelve. Marriage at the time was something very intangible, something that ended most movies. Though even then we knew that marriage was not about a dress, the dress was a symbol of something beautiful.
Years later, my friend came out of the closet. Nothing changed. But for some reason, people don’t seem to realize that the woman who’s been in a very committed, loving relationship with another woman for the past six years is the exact same person as the little girl who wanted a glittery wedding gown and dreamed of taking a honeymoon ride on a gondola through enchanted canals in the moonlight. It’s a sad image, really: a girl dreams of a wedding, and then grows up to realize that it can never be hers because the law sees her love for her girlfriend as somehow degenerate.
It’s so strange; we were such similar little girls, and now, in many ways, similar women, and yet, there are people who would consider our marriage dreams to be very different. Because I am straight and she is not, there are people who would consider mine to be “cute” and hers the prelude to perversion. Could you have guessed who was who just by looking at us at the time? Could you have guessed who was who just by hearing the dreams?
When I think about prop. 8, first and foremost I think of my friends and then I think of this story. I think of people telling perfectly normal individuals that they are somehow abnormal, that their desire to fall in love and get married is disgusting. I know this story perhaps does not offer compelling legal reasons–it’s a story from my past, one that holds personal significance for me. However, for me prop. 8 is a personal attack. It is an affront against some of my closest friends and beloved relatives. For me, this is both about general human rights and people I love very dearly.
This is not about abstract ideas; this is about real people. VOTE NO ON PROP. 8.