We Have Been Heroes
Of sorts. But we have.
Today is a random day between April 23rd and May 17th. Two years ago in France, we were right in between the vote and the ratification of the Taubira Law, a.k.a the “Mariage Pour Tous” Law, which was to give homosexual citizens the right to marry and adopt, to build a legally-recognized family.
I was there.
In the street I mean. I was there with my hope, my will, my anger and my future wife. So my hands where kinda full. Two years later, I remember. I remember the people. The signs. The rainbow flags. The single men (gay), the single women (gay), the support groups (straight and gay), the fathers (gay), the mothers (gay), the families (straight and gay).
Gay gay straight, gay gay straight… Beating the street, pulsing, all cry & outcry.
If you were not in France during the months before the law was finally passed, you don’t know. You can’t possibly realize what a mess it was. The protests. The public declarations. The dinner talks.
Rainbow flags vs. Pink & Blue flags.
We are families! vs. You are pedophiles! (zoophiles was a recurring variant)
We are citizens! vs. You are minorities!
We matter! vs. You shouldn’t exist!
Months. I became a warrior. I became a speaker. An advocate. A history-book figure. A newspaper photograph: striking, inspired, anonymous, Google-cached. I became the French flag: beaten blue, white-faced, red-cheeked with outrage.
I was leading a war against exclusion (worse: denial). I became a Citizen. I realized I had an idea of my country. An idea of what it would be to love, and be loved in return.
But my idea was not their ideal. I remember those people facing us. They had come up with a catchy name for themselves. I don’t want to write it down. I can’t. They were all pink, blue and Phrygian-capped. They were “Revolutionaries”, like in “Revolver”. I wanted to tell them: you’re making so much damage. You don’t quite grasp, right now, this instant, this street corner, how many others you hurt, how many faint but sacred possibilities of mutual love you extinguish. Your neighbor. Your kid. Your new colleague. That guy over there; the one with the falafel sandwich heading back to work. You don’t know it yet. But you will. Not for the first time in history, you are publicly protesting against other people’s rights. Women? Done. Colored people? Not cool anymore. Jews? Overrated. “Let’s go for gays!”
Am I harsh on you? I’m sorry. I’m looking at you. You’re having fun. You’re laughing: you are in the street with your family and the sun is shining. It’s a nice winter day: bright and vivid. You just gave your little girl an ice-cream. You took the pink & blue flag out of her hand: she might stain her dress. The little girl looks at me: she is smiling. That’s a good ice-cream.
The day the law was finally passed, I was back in the street. Nobody wanted to talk about “a celebration”. I was back in the street with my hope, my will, my anger and my future wife. My hands seemed just as full as before, you see. I remember closing my eyes an instant, looking for… relief? The much-valued skill to forgive? I remember opening my eyes. In front of me, a huge pro-equality sign said, in very simple, hand-written, unrelenting, black letters: “We won’t forget.” Nobody wanted to talk about “a celebration”, you see.
One year later, we got married. It was a great marriage. It was a celebration.
Two years later, I’m thinking about that little girl. I remember how she, too, became a newspaper photograph, how she, too, although literally, was blue, white and red. She could have been me. I could have been her. I wish I could have smiled to her too.
aka CARRIE SPEAKING,
Travel Writer, Blogger.
Visit my blog @ http://carriespeaking.com