Saturday, November 15, 2008

Honk for Love

For a couple of hours this afternoon, I joined in the "viral" equality gathering in the next town up from mine. We were near the library on a main road. It turned out to be a fantastic spot because there was constant, slow traffic. Due to the wildfires about 30 miles to either side, all the middle area traffic was coming down right next to us.

I joined with about a dozen other people and was probably the oldest by 10 years or more until a local couple my age walked over and joined us. Apparently they started with a couple dozen and it dwindled toward 1 when I got there. It was supposed to run from 10:30am to 3pm. I left at 3 and more people had shown up so it was still going strong. Check the Daily Dish link in my sidebar for views of other groups around the country doing the same thing.

One thing you don't realize if you're not here about the Santa Ana winds that whip up the fires is that they are dry and hot. Not just a pleasant warm breeze, but scorching like an oven hot. Unlike most people on this November day, we had full sun, blue skies and 90F weather. It was windy enough to rip signs out of hands, so most people started getting cramped hands as their worst side effect. And we cheered loudly at any fire trucks heading out. Because they were going into hot on top of hot. We were lucky - no fire, hot enough to make people roll down their car windows, and someone brought some flats of water to drink.

It was really interesting to see the wide variety of people and cars. And very hard to predict who would show support. We'd get waves of honkers, then waves of sourpusses. Some minivans packed to the gills with an extended family would honk wildly and some would drive by stonefaced. Lots of black people honked. Some really old people in 10 gallon hats gave us a wave and a honk. Some really old people in 10 gallon hats did not. Some semis with nice loud horns joined in the action - more than I was expecting - and some did not. One guy on a bright orange motorcycle stopped to say how exasperated he was that 8 passed. Considering how long all these people had been sitting in traffic to get where they were going, which can make people extra cranky, even the naysayers were pretty reserved.

So this wasn't a huge event like some others, but it was local and I think we probably saw more people than most due to the traffic re-routing. And we got lots of people to honk for love. All in all a net positive, I think.

I've been reading a lot about why there wasn't this level of activism before prop 8, and florida's prop 2 and the others. There are many theories. Mine is that people figured that this was California, of course it wouldn't pass. And we were close, but not entirely correct about that. I don't think we were prepared for the level of swiftboating we got. Another theory/observation is that most gay folks learn to stay in the background to avoid trouble, until a big event happens that makes it worth coming out and yelling about. There are straight people who assumed that voting their support would be enough.

Whatever the reasons, people are out and about NOW. If you're wondering why we're out and about after the election it's because we now know that our quiet support isn't going to work. And the movement needs more people and more visibility. It won't help today, but maybe it'll help tomorrow. I've heard there'll be a gathering in Sacramento at the state capitol next Saturday. It's a little out of my reach to get there, but look into it if it's not out of yours. Another little thing to do is sign the petition to repeal prop 8. Couldn't hurt, might help.

Honk for Love, y'all.

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