Here’s a piece I wrote today on the fly for the campus LGBTQ magazine
Fellow Progressives, I am most displeased. Current events are looking grim from New England to here in Mid-Missouri. With quality health care for all of us in jeopardy and an economy scrambling to get itself in order, I guess it could be easy to overlook local news and a tiny little ballot measure happening on the east coast during off-year elections. However, it’s when people miss these details that we get blindsided as much as we have in recent weeks.
As a Center for Social Justice staff member, I get quite comfortable in my queer, feminist, safe space/stronghold. It’s a warm little bubble where people are respectful and inclusive. Sometimes I forget that not all of the people in Columbia hold to these values. On Thursday, October 29th two brothers, James and Michael Pezold, originally from O’Fallon, MO were arrested at Wal-Mart for committing what was clearly a hate crime. The brothers had been circling the parking lot pelting families with racial slurs. This eventually led to James Pezold knocking a 2-year-old child down with his vehicle and driving away. Fortunately, the child sustained minor injuries and no one else was physically harmed. Honestly. A two-year-old. Here in the Columbia that I have grown to naively consider a friendlier place for minorities than the town I grew up in. I have been sincerely disappointed. One moral (among many) found from that story: avoid Wal-Mart at all costs.
In not-so-local news, marriage equality has taken yet another upsetting blow. The feelings I have about Maine’s Proposition One debacle can be summed up pretty easily: Seriously?! Seriously, Maine, I thought you had yourself together. However, 53% of voters said, “Yes” to this ballot measure and repealed the right for same-sex couples to marry in the state. I am genuinely surprised and upset, but should I be? It is the 31st time that marriage equality has failed as public referendum. You would have thought that after the massive, powerful backlash from the Prop 8 mess in California that progressives would have been on the offensive to make sure it didn’t happen again. Where did we go wrong in Maine? All the coverage of the “No On 1” campaign showed them as organized and optimistic. I’ve been an intern on grassroots campaigns before and this shakes my faith in the work that organizers are doing. There are people on the far right saying that what happened in Maine shows that the fight is over, that Americans truly aren’t interested in marriage equality. Their implication that there is no fight left in the queer community might be what pains me the most to hear, because I know that is far from the truth.
At this moment, I find myself wondering where have all the safe spaces gone? If the coasts are not bulletproof from hypocrisy and hate crimes are happening in our backyard, where do we go? Equality seems scarce and fleeting, so I say we keep our eyes open to the events that don’t always make the headlines. I say we stay here and hold our ground in our corner of the world. Let’s make our warm and happy bubble of social justice just a little bit bigger.