One moment we're at our cottage, spending time with an old friend who's back in Canada after living in a state of Canadian-gay-partner i-legality in the U.S. for several years. The recent DOMA ruling gave her the confidence to cross the border with hope her relationship might be recognized in the U.S. before too long.
Three middle-age lesbian parents, four teenage boys, together at a cabin on a river in a heat wave; as the wine and marshmallows flowed so too did the conversations about the state of racial violence, economic decline, and of course gay rights, in the U.S. and Canada today.
The next moment we're back home in Kingston, opening our accumulated mail that includes two anonymous letters, addressed to Lesbian Bitches, declaring in the name of Jesus that the writers and their children will shoot us unless we leave town. Clearly we share different family pastimes. The change in climate could not have been more severe. All of a sudden it began to pour.
We take seriously the old labour movement slogan that "An Injury to One is an Injury to All." Those letters could have been sent to any gay people in our town, or, changing a word or two, any town. As well as informing the police, we decided to take our own action, which was to put the letters on Facebook and send them to friends. We also called our local friends and soon our front porch was armed with children, neighbours, friends and more wine. Media started calling. Someone organized a support rally in a neighbourhood park. Young lesbians walk by our house and smile at us. "All we're missing," as a friend quipped, "is an appearance by Justin Trudeau."
We've moved quickly from being people who are hated by those who don't know us, to people who are also loved by others who don't know us. We're overwhelmed but not surprised, because these are violent times. Yes, Jack Layton, love is certainly better than hate.
Over the years we've seen and heard dozens of examples of hate in the form of the casual, everyday racism experienced by friends, neighbours, co-workers and students in this small, conservative, predominately Anglo city; racism which occasionally escalates into violence or threats of violence. We've written letters and signed petitions, attended (even helped to organize) anti-hate-crimes rallies. We've shared our home with a young Saudi Muslim male for several years as he experienced the daunting challenging of living one of the most feared identities on the planet. While we haven't personally experienced overt homophobic threats before, we know plenty of people, in this and other communities, who have.
As plenty of wise people have observed before, the interior, psychic world of domination and oppression is a mixed-up thing. As we make a point of facing these threats publicly, we can't ignore the corrosive effect this all has on our imagination. It's odd to be surrounded by all the support in the real and virtual world, and yet still think suspicious, fearful thoughts about passers-by. The deluge can happen in an instant, but climate change -- both the physical and the social varieties -- has been building for years. It has history behind it. So relocation offers aside, we'll stay on our front porch with our friends, to take cover and peacefully stand our ground.