Three Hours On A Bridge: Was It Really Worth It?
November 7, 2011 3 Comments
On Saturday, as I rolled out of bed and stumbled around in the dark to turn off the alarm clock, I wondered if getting up at five o’clock in the morning to go hold some sign along the interstate out in the cold was really the best use of my already busy weekend.
While I showered and dressed as warm as I could, I tried to talk myself out of it. I really did.
“Who would notice if I wasn’t out there?” I tried to reason. “Am I really that naive to think that just because I’ll be standing out there with a sign asking people to “Add The Words, Idaho” that it’s really going to make a difference?”
I really wanted to call it off. Even more so after my husband and I opened the front door and got a blast of the cold predawn frigid air.
I fumbled through songs on my I-pod looking for inspiration, anything really, that would give me encouragement. I settled for Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors”, but I was still having a hard time breaking through the dread and tiredness.
We drove to the appointed place we had scouted out the night before (at the opening of the Perrine Bridge outside of Twin Falls) just as the sky was starting to blue around its edges.
As we put our sign in place and the cars and trucks starting rolling past us, the wind seemed to be even colder than just a few minutes ago.
“I’m going to the car,” my great and faithful companion said. “It’s insane to be out here.”
I wanted to argue with him, but he was right it probably was insane.
I spent the next half hour or so telling myself that the friends I had invited to join me would soon be there. 45 minutes later, the cold taking whatever slim optimism I had regarding the morning, I knew that I was probably going to be out there by myself.
I slowly reached my numb hand into my jeans pocket for my iPhone, thinking maybe someone had emailed me in the night telling me they were going to be late.
As I did, I accidentally hit the iPod function and Cyndi’s voice could faintly be heard over the roar and rumbles of the passing traffic…
“it’s hard to take courage
in a world full of people
you can lose sight of it all
and the darkness inside you
can make you feel so small..”
I looked down at my sign, “Add The Words, Idaho.”
“so don’t be afraid to let them show
your true colors..”
I thought of the campaign itself, the countless hours spent by others over the past six years who have taken the time to ask, beg and plead our lawmakers to make it safe for Idaho’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning community to come out.
I thought about the stories and faces of people I had met over the years who had either lost their jobs because someone didn’t like their sexual orientation, or were locked into a professional situation where the fear of not being able to provide for their families kept them from talking about their partners, participating in at work rituals like displaying photos of their boyfriend or girlfriend, talking about their quirky little habits around the water cooler, or bringing them to the company picnic.
I thought about the woman I know who isn’t able to work because she needs a surgery that her and her partner can’t afford. I thought of the guilt that her partner feels because her employer offers her benefits, but because it doesn’t recognize same gender relationships, won’t cover her partner’s surgery.
I thought of the policy at a hotel in Boise that denies same gender couples from renting a room for the night, solely because they are the same gender.
I thought of the lawmakers who year after year have told those working on the “Add The Words” campaign that such things don’t happen in Idaho. The lawmakers who say “our constituents won’t support us voting for such things.”
And I thought of the LGBTQIA folks that I knew who turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the campaign. “It’s too political”, they say. I wondered what was political about asking lawmakers to protect the rights of all its citizens. “We just don’t get involved”, they said.
I thought of the video I had watched a few days before of a man in Uganda, his body burning, his only crime was loving another man. I thought of the years I had spent being silent while politicians and preachers encourage such laws both here in the U.S. and abroad.
The AIDS activists were right.
Sometimes silence DOES equal death.
A truck horn sounded jerking me out of my thoughts. I looked up and saw the driver give me a thumbs up.
As the sun started to light my face, I wiped a tear from my eye.
Is this going to be the year that Idaho finally stands up and says it’s time to view all of its citizens as equal? Is this going to be the year that we as a community rise above our fears and frustrations and get involved in something as simple as taking the few minutes to write out a sticky note asking our lawmakers to “Add the words sexual orientation and gender identity to the Idaho Human Rights Act”?
I don’t know.
I do know this, that as I stood there alone on that icy bridge on Saturday morning, I decided that it was indeed worth it. Standing up for what is right will always be worth it.
(Please, If you haven’t already, take a few moments to ask your lawmakers to add the words “sexual orientation and gender identity to the Idaho Human Rights act. Visit Add The Words, Idaho for more information and to send yours or if you aren’t sure what to write please visit the facebook page. Your few minutes really will make a difference.Thank You!-JT)