First, I must confess that while the President spoke I was filled with an overwhelming rage thinking about how, if he were to die tomorrow, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha would all receive social security benefits, and if Kim died tomorrow, I would not. I don’t begrudge them the benefits; social security is an important and valuable program in our country. I just want queers to be included in it. We pay in equally, we should receive benefits equally. I was surprised by the amount of anger and agitation that I had thinking about this while listening to him speaking. Now, I won’t be on the street if Kim dies tomorrow, nor would she. We are well-trained lesbians with wills and life insurance policies to protect one another in case of tragedy, but the visible manifestation of this injustice had me beside myself with anger. Hence, I didn’t stand and applaud as much as the masses in the Convention Center. I was more skeptical and suspicious.
Let me say next that we had great seats, including being right behind Lady Gaga, who was fabulous. I’m a new fan. We could see the President very well. He was both comfortable and charismatic. I do feel like he is more comfortable with addressing a gay and lesbian audience than he was a year ago and he is more conversant and passionate about the issues. Do I think that is going to translate into more action at an executive level? No. He will sign legislation that comes out of Congress in support of LGBT people, including the forthcoming Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. I don’t underestimate the importance of that or the importance of someone who at least in word if not in deed is supportive of the LBGT community. I just want more than rhetoric and more than invitation acceptances as a part of his vision and his legacy. Though, on balance, I’ll take President Obama’s rhetoric over Bush’s active anti-LGBT work. And I’ll vote for President Obama again, though I am unlikely to give money unless he is more proactive on behalf of the agenda of the LGBT community. On one hand, I don’t want to underestimate the power of language to transform our realities; on the other hand, I don’t want to rest on easy rhetoric when there is real work to be done.
Kim found me to be a wet blanket on this issue. She was impressed by the way that he spoke about recognizing relationships between two men and two women and found that to be new and courageous. She also felt like he had come to a place of more understanding, acceptance, and comfort with LBTG people and that should recognized and celebrated. She was inspired by it all and insisted on many picture demonstrating the evening, it’s historical significance, and her proximity to power. The photos are all on Facebook - friend me if you want to see them.
Finally, for me the emotional highlight of the evening was seeing the tribute to Senator Kennedy and the award to Denis and Judy Shepard. Judy Shepard has worked tirelessly for the Hate Crimes act to be passed and seeing that come to fruition is incredible. That made me cry, much more than the President. I expect, though, that at some point in my lifetime, I’ll see a President, and perhaps this one, who will take action and will do things on behalf of LGBT people that make me cry. I hope that day is soon.