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On Being Gay

 

Every major election year,

My hopes for change always disappear.

With this year being no exception,

Time for a bit of introspection.

With the passage of proposition eight,

The state perpetuated legalized hate.

Inner feelings I can’t betray,

On the subject of being gay.

 

In the year that I was born,

Being gay meant more than scorn.

Locked up and called insane,

Against your will, they cause you pain.

Administering electric shock,

Nurses watch you around the clock.

They do not stop until you obey,

All because of being gay.

 

There you stay for months or years,

Until your sanity disappears.

Those not broken or demoralized,

Often become lobotomized.

Even those with a strong inner drive,

Find it difficult to survive.

What a high price to pay,

All because of being gay.

 

But not everyone suffered this fate,

For some worked hard to assimilate.

Going to extremes to hide,

The true feelings they kept inside.

Never willing to take a chance,

To openly talk about romance.

A deep secret they can’t betray,

All because of being gay.

 

Always on guard, we never relax,

Like an intricate web, covering tracks.

We speak gender appropriate, true to form,

Never letting on we’re outside the norm.

Making sure they do not know,

Keeping up the status quo.

Never appearing the least bit risqué,

All because of being gay.

 

But sometimes, thru no fault of your own,

Your cover becomes completely blown.

Outed by someone you thought a friend,

Brings the charade to a bitter end.

Quickly being shown the door,

Your very presence they do abhor.

This will not look good on your resume,

All because of being gay.

 

Facing the uncertain road ahead,

Each new interview is viewed with dread.

Wondering who else might know,

Paranoia begins to grow.

Looking for work outside your field,

Desperation cannot be concealed.

Taking a job for lower pay,

All because of being gay.

 

And then came the riots of sixty-nine,

A new generation they would define.

Thought to be just a few malcontents,

Police beat down the disobedient.

But no longer were they willing to hide,

No more harassment would they abide.

A new era began that day,

All because of being gay.

 

The Stonewall Inn may have been just a bar,

But the fallout is felt near and far.

As the feeling spreads nationwide,

The closet doors have opened wide.

Together ready to take up the fights,

That must be fought for equal rights.

Coming together in a united display,

All because of being gay.

 

The seventies were some turbulent times,

Bringing changes to old paradigms.

The psychiatric society, changing its indices,

No more is homosexuality a mental disease.

Cruel treatment has now ceased,

As thousands, from institutions are released.

Winning over the A.M.A,

All because of being gay.

 

No longer a psychological abomination,

There is still a great deal of discrimination.

Still seen by many to be mentally sick,

Beaten senseless with a fist or stick.

With beatings becoming more routine,

Police are slow to intervene.

Still considered part of the fray,

All because of being gay.

 

Sending out a general alarm,

 Warning of those who would cause harm.

Causing harm because of fear,

Harm to those that we hold dear.

Causing harm because of hate,

Harm to those who can’t retaliate.

Causing harm to have their way,

All because of being gay.

 

Not willing to just let it pass,

Taking on laws that still harass.

Taking on the laws of sodomy,

Taking back our sexuality.

There is no crime between adults who consent,

So went the winning argument.

A celebrated judgment day,

All because of being gay.

 

Finally deemed legal and sane,

A cause for the free flow of beer and champagne.

It is now legal to run a gay bar,

Something that becomes very popular.

In most communities, coming together,

There seems no storm we can’t weather.

In celebration we come out to play,

All because of being gay.

 

But not all are happy, some are outraged,

Their moral values have been upstaged.

The bible clearly states it’s a sin,

Giving the old argument the same old spin.

Preaching a message of intolerance,

Wanting to regain their dominance.

The immoral, running farther astray,

All because of being gay.

Taking the ups and downs in stride,

Marching on, in the spirit of pride.

Marching on for equal rights,

Harvey Milk led on the fights.

Well spoken and well prepared,

He took on what others hadn’t dared.

Popular opinion he tried to sway,

All because of being gay.

 

Giving hope to the disenfranchised,

That they could become legitimized.

Giving them a fighting chance,

Passing the first gay rights ordinance.

But his term in office he would not complete,

As death found the Mayor of Castro Street.

Shot down, in the city by the bay,

All because of being gay.

 

The death of Harvey Milk stirred emotions,

For he confronted preconceived notions.

Slowly others came out to fight,

Refusing to go quietly into that good night.

Slowly beginning to organize,

A movement they start to galvanize.

No longer willing to be part of the fray,

All because of being gay.

 

But the eighties seemed to only get worse,

Set on a course we could not reverse.

A sickness that doctors can’t explain,

With symptoms, from exotic to mundane.

Doctors who are themselves not at ease,

Call this sickness the gay disease.

A label that would not go away,

All because of being gay.

 

As the word begins to get out,

The religious right isn’t afraid to shout.

They had predicted this day would come,

Preaching on high from Christendom.

It was time for gays to pay their penance,

For their willful disobedience.

The righteously smug on display,

All because of being gay.

But doctors begin to have their doubts,

Of what this disease is really about.

They think the disease is blood borne,

But skeptics dismiss them with much scorn.

They tried to warn of the risk,

Of this spreading, at a pace quite brisk.

Public opinion they couldn’t sway,

All because of being gay.

 

No one wanted to listen at all,

From Main Street to the National Mall.

All alone out on a lurch,

Begging for money for more research.

Frustrated, demoralized and finally fed up,

Organizing the radical group ACT-UP.

Feeling there is no other way,

All because of being gay.

 

Many think it’s a real disgrace,

The way ACT-UP got in your face.

But radical ways begin to work,

Building up a social network.

And so it went, at first quite slow,

Although no longer the status quo.

Continuing the fight, day by day,

All because of being gay.

 

But ACT-UP, while seeming crass,

Refused to be treated as second class.

Taking on the hospital staff,

To make decisions on our partner’s behalf.

Fighting the same fight, again and again,

Became an ACT-UP regimen.

The fight for equality gets underway,

All because of being gay.

 

And so went the eighties, and nineties too,

Shouting out, till our faces turned blue.

No one in power would dare to act,

Letting discrimination remain in tact.

Unless you count “don’t ask, don’t tell,”

And we all know how that worked so well.

And so it went, within the beltway,

All because of being gay.

And although we all had to be thick skinned,

We were fed up screaming at the wind.

Deciding to take our case to court,

Slowly, but surely, we find some support.

Learning more about legal codes,

Gives the movement more in roads.

Getting decisions to go our way,

All because of being gay.

 

With each decision being challenged,

Religious morality must be avenged.

For each win brought an appeal,

To arguably try to reverse the deal.

Both sides fighting tooth and nail,

Going back and forth until one prevails.

With more appeals, our rights they delay,

All because of being gay.

 

Keeping focus on the news,

For issues we win and those we lose.

Still taking the ups and downs in stride,

In trying to bridge the great divide.

Tearing down some more blockades,

On what has been a long crusade.

 Hoping it will be better someday,

All because of being gay.

 

Then San Francisco causes a stir,

Recognizing the domestic partner.

Local government finally admits,

That they must provide partner benefits.

From health insurance to family leave,

Is something each employee will receive.

True change is underway,

All because of being gay.

 

It seems equality had begun,

But for awhile they’re the only one.

Non Californians ask, what about us?

How do we expand the radius?

Petitioning companies for resolution,

To provide them the same inclusion.

Asking only for fair play,

All because of being gay.

Large corporations start to join in,

Redefining who are kin.

With California they concur,

Domestic partners they will insure.

Corporate America’s new aim,

Treating all employees the same.

Offering equal benefits and pay,

All because of being gay.

 

So with momentum on our side,

We look to make history nationwide.

Focusing on the road ahead,

Campaigning for the right to wed.

From this fight we won’t withdraw,

Wanting equality, under the law.

With legal battles underway,

All because of being gay.

 

Starting at the local level,

In small victories we would revel.

Being reversed on appeal,

Trying to keep an even keel.

Trying to work within the law,

Going back and forth like a seesaw.

Not willing to back away,

All because of being gay.

 

And then one day, out of the blue,

Massachusetts makes headlines in the news.

News, most extraordinary,

Giving gay folks the right to marry.

But, to be able to participate,

You must live within the state.

A precedent is underway,

All because of being gay.

 

Vermont soon follows the lead,

Without restrictions that supersede.

California then joins in the race,

Not wanting to lose their trend setting place.

Feeling we’re finally on the right track,

Wondering which state will be the next to crack.

Finally letting out a loud hooray,

All because of being gay.

 

But California’s advance would be short-lived,

As the religious right tries to be prohibitive.

Introducing Proposition Eight,

A proposition meant to discriminate.

To push us back to a lower class,

No one believed it would really pass.

But a big surprise came on election day,

All because of being gay.

 

But the anger we had to look beyond,

And once again find our common bond.

Knowing there was too much at stake,

Equal rights we would not forsake.

Making progress for the still disavowed,

I wonder, would Harvey Milk be proud?

Our common goal we could not betray,

All because of being gay.

 

Continuing on state by state,

Spurring on a national debate.

New York is next to take up the fight,

As legislators vote late into the night.

Sitting and watching in complete awe,

As the Governor signs the bill into law.

Proposing to my partner right away,

All because of being gay.

 

But before we are able to wed,

Military policy moves full steam ahead.

From the highest general to the lowest ships mate,

Deciding it was time to assimilate.

Taking on don’t ask don’t tell,

With a presidential repeal it finally fell.

Slowly the tide is turning our way,

All because of being gay.

 

While the states slowly continued to roll,

The courts really played the biggest role.

Looking for equality under the law,

Win or lose we would never withdraw.

Celebrating each and every repeal,

Before being challenged with another appeal.

With each decision going our way,

All because of being gay.

 

Finally, as a last resort,

Three cases arrive at the supreme court.

Three cases in the span of two years,

The chance to argue is met with cheers.

Hoping the one Justice on whom we can rely,

Is Justice Kennedy who has been our ally.

With oral arguments underway,

All because of being gay.

 

Justice Kennedy did not disappoint,

Writing for the majority’s viewpoint.

In the case of the United States versus Windsor,

They decided she was a spousal inheritor.

Striking down the Defense of Marriage Act,

Gave federal recognition to laws states enact.

Much to the religious right’s dismay,

All because of being gay.

 

And in that same calendar year,

A second case the court did hear.

 The case of Hollingsworth versus Perry,

Made those in California a bit more merry.

Striking down proposition eight,

Which the state refused to litigate.

Those not in authority denied their say,

All because of being gay.

 

The next case the court almost dodges,

Is Obergefell versus Hodges.

Justice Kennedy breaks with conservative fans,

Striking down all state gay marriage bans.

The court’s decision was quite a reversal,

Making gay marriage universal.

Decided almost two years to the day,

All because of being gay.

Celebrating the fact we can legally wed,

There is still a long road ahead.

For it is still not safe to walk hand-in-hand,

Without disapproving looks of reprimand.

It is still not safe to openly converse,

About our spouse without seeming perverse.

Still feeling uneasy and part of the fray,

All because of being gay.

 

Still not equal in the work place,

Not protected as is religion or race.

Still not equal in the marketplace,

Being refused service is commonplace.

Still not being equally protected,

By the very folks we elected.

Still not equal within the mainstay,

All because of being gay.

 

Still with so much to do we must concede

There is a small minority trying to intercede.

For in the decade since prop eight’s demise,

Their anti-gay sentiment is on the rise.

They want to strip away our hard-fought rights,

With hateful violence they are willing to incite.

Willing to do anything to have their way,

All because of being gay.

 

Although this is not an election year,

The primary season is drawing near.

Candidate’s speeches are very aggressive,

On how to make our rights more regressive.

The malice they have against all LGBTQ,

As they try to erase us from public view.

Hoping that we will just go away,

All because of being gay.

But we are not willing to just disappear,

And we will not give into their campaign of fear.

For a small minority has no right,

To keep the majority hostage in plain sight.

We have fought too hard and come too far,

To go back in the closet to hide who we are.

We will not let homophobia rule the day,

All because of being gay.

As pride month commences across the land,

Let us rise up and make our stand.

At primaries, vote for the candidate,

Who will not support legalized hate.

One who will respect who we are,

And make sure our rights will not be subpar.

Come out and vote to have your say,

All because of being gay.

Looking forward to a future election,

 Where I need no more introspection.

Hoping to move past archaic morality,

To achieving full equality.

To be just another member of society,

Without looks of impropriety.

But most of all, I look forward to the day,

When I need not talk on being gay.

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