Tuesday, December 21, 2004

As the Year Ends...

Another year rolls rapidly to a close. We've had a few laughs, and shed a few tears. We've eaten too much, spent too much money, and drank too much. We haven't exercised enough, slept enough, or loved enough. For the most part, this year was pretty similar to last year, and once again we hoped to be more of what we wanted, and less of what we wanted.

Somehow, this year does feel different. The "queer" among us, not limited to the same-sex oriented, but the really queer; the oddballs, the freaks, the mold-breakers solidly became the enemy in the so-called culture wars. From the war resisters to the proponents for transportation alternatives, the sexually liberated (subject to the occasional wardrobe malfunction) to the gay couples who just want to be married, all of us who struggle day after day to redefine America have found ourselves the object of increasingly aggresive scorn and malicious attack. Yes, sodomy laws were struck down, but being able to lawfully slurp the sushi did nothing to make queer couples feel safe at home or at work, or protect their families. Yes, African-Americans became more visible in the party of the prosperous, but Black kids are still less literate and more prone to violence, both as victim and perpetrator. People in New York City who want to challenge its smog-sucking citizens to stop depending on fossil fuel-based transportation (come on now, do you really need a pickup truck to drive from Bensonhurst to Manhattan every day?) were arrested under questionable circumstances. McGraw-Hill agrees to remove any reference to homosexuality or "alternative" relationship (you know, anything other than male-female marriage) from health education textbooks published in the state of Texas because they have a definition of marriage law. We have four more years of the most dangerous Presidency in recent memory.

On the other hand, not all is gloom and doom. McDonald's eliminates the super-sizing option and offers a healthy meal in the form of a main dish salad and water, with a pedometer as a free gift. Democrats have a Black man as the next best thing who doesn't potentially have a skeleton in his closet -- the possibly worst thing in Barack Obama's closet is that he's biracial, which he's been so public about it's a nonissue. New York City's Board of Education eliminates social promotion. The blatant lack of talent among pop stars is finally coming to light with not one, but two embarassing episodes (perhaps not as tragic as that fateful MTV show featuring Milli Vanilli, but I digress). Low carb is petering out. Even the most diehard Atkins practitioner I know was recently spotted eating an apple! Big drug companies are rightfully getting their balloons popped with recent reports of the hazards associated with Cox-2 inhibitors.

Who am I kidding? I want desperately to believe things are getting better, and for some, okay for me, things have gotten better. I have my own band. I can run a 12:30 mile. I've made great new friends. My wife is still awesome. Despite all of this, I'm still stuck in the fear that we are entering a dark phase in America, one where the war in Iraq will pale in comparison to the gun-free war that will rage on this soil. I am protected in my urban oasis, living in a cocoon of supposed civil authority. I can walk down the street in my city holding my lover's hand, speak publicly about her, have pictures of her on my desk at work. I can be out at work, even heading the company's lesbian and gay employee group. I have museums, books, theater steps away from my home. I live in a city where amusements, intoxicants, and food from all over the world is at my fingertips, at any time of day or night. I am seen as the other because I am black-skinned, female, lesbian. I am other because I am educated. I am other because I am not a White, heterosexual man with a wife and two kids, a fat retirement account, a house that I own, and a car in the driveway. I am afraid that my urbaneness, my education, my cultural elitism will make me a victim in my own home.

As the end of the year approaches, I pray that I won't be a victim, that no bombs will fall on my home, that I won't become a stranger in my homeland. Let this year end as the last year did, but with greater hope for a better year to come.


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