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A Call to Step Up and Protest

A Call to Step Up and Protest

Since the Nov. 4, election the best word I can find to describe our country is changed -- both for the better and for the worse... Although I never saw myself getting married, Prop. 8, even before it passed, became a reminder of what I was being denied as a lesbian and it stung worse than anything I've ever felt. Was I beginning to care about politics?

Since the Nov. 4, election, the best word I can find to describe our country is changed -- both for the better and for the worse.

This election was only the second time I could vote but it was also a time when I have been more aware and interested politically than ever before. Maybe it’s the life experience that comes with age that drew my interest to applicable issues. I think that’s a part of it but I also think that the way the election results personally affect my life and my freedom, have pulled me into politics an area I have thus far generally avoided.

I was raised in Texas in a very conservative part of Dallas. When I was about nine, my father had a business partner who was gay. My father asked me if I knew what that meant. I was shocked he even needed to ask -- who didn’t know what that meant? It wasn’t anything bad or wrong. Somehow, even with all the conservative filters I had around me, I still knew that judgment of any kind was wrong whether or not it involved me or directly applied to me.

Sit-in at Hollywood in Highland Nov. 8

When I graduated high school and moved to Los Angeles for college I officially came out myself. I had made it through an unimaginably conservative private school for 10 years, and a public high school for three, reading about all the hate and torture gay teens were experiencing and not understanding how someone could hate a person so much for being gay. I was so immersed in school, however, that I never took five minutes to acknowledge my sexuality at all. Either way, I had my GPA and college to worry about, not sex.

I am thankful I didn’t stray in high school but the recent election and Prop. 8’s passage in California have brought out a passionate side of me I didn’t know existed within me. I’ve been wondering if back in high school if I’d have been so involved and pro-active for equality if I’d been out and focused on my sexuality… if I had to fight for acceptance because of who I wanted to be involved with. Would the friends I had back then have supported me or abandoned me? Would I have been able to change their minds from the narrow ways their parents had programmed in them? Either way, it’s no use wondering now; now is the time we have to actually do something.

Because I grew up thinking gays were equals, they were no less than I was, I never stopped to think about the fact that none of them were married, much less that they were not legally allowed to marry. As much as grew to learn that I possessed a more accepting outlook than everyone around me, I still couldn’t fathom we were denied the right to marry.

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When I was in college I realized how much the country as a whole had progressed in acceptance of LGBT issues. And for the first time I had faith that the country was moving in the right direction. The announcement earlier this year that California allowed same-sex couples to marry definitely affected me more than I would ever have predicted. First, I just never saw myself getting married. Second, the reminder of what I was being denied as a lesbian stung worse than anything I've ever felt. Was I beginning to care about politics?

Protest at the Mormon Temple Nov. 6 in West LA

Since graduating college in May, I had the summer to catch up on just how far LGBT people have come, but more importantly, on how far we still have to go. In the past three months my involvement and sensitivity in LGBT rights and issues has multiplied exponentially.

Honestly, I don’t think I would have fully appreciated this change in myself and changes in the community without my friends and peers -- those not only at my side fighting for equality but those who are fighting against me. It is the people determined to strip me of my rights to love and have a marriage equal to theirs for whom I feel as sorry as I do for all of us who are victims of discrimination.

This election we elected the first black president. But that fact shouldn’t matter in the end -- he is going to bring change to our country. There was a long road for him to the White House. There is a long road for us, even with all the miles we have already collectively marched, hours we have protested and rallied.

Having my rights ripped from my hands during the same election as our first black president was selected heightens my awareness of what it takes to achieve your goals and bring change --on any level. So while I was always in an environment accepting of sexual orientation and aware that I was lucky to be there I must now fight for something a lot of people take for granted -- marriage.

It has been rough for me, feeling so intensely affected by supporters of proposition 8. But experiencing the beauty that is all of us coming together at protests and seeing the tears, our determination is the part our community changing history that I will remember and that will continue to affect more than anything else.

To find out how you can participate in the Marriage Equality National Day of Protest this Saturday, Nov. 15th,click here.

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Boo Jarchow