Talk about Mixed Feelings
Posted by Anthony Waters on November 7, 2008 at 01:00pm
photo: JP Puerta
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Like so many urban neighborhoods across the United States, the traditionally gay district of The Castro in San Francisco filled the streets to celebrate Barack Obama’s win. But even then, there was undercurrent of disappointment. That feeling intensified this week with news that Proposition 8 had passed. Proposition 8 prohibits marriage between same-sex partners. For Youth Radio’s Mark Anthony Waters, the civil rights implications of both Obama’s win and the gay marriage ban hit close to home.
I was watching the election results on the TV at work. When Barack Obama stepped up to the podium with the American flag behind him, I turned to my colleague and said, “Does this mean Obama is President?”
Before I tell you what happened next, let me back up. While I was in the sixth grade in California’s central valley, I had a racist teacher. I was the only black male in the whole school. She looked at me one day and she’s like, “They’ll elect a black man for President before they elect a white woman. You mark my words.” That always stuck with me. So this year, when a black man and a white woman were both running for president, I was slightly hoping Clinton would win, just to prove that teacher wrong.
But when I heard Obama won, I felt like I was walking on air. I knew at that exact moment that anything was possible. I felt like telling her she was right.
But then, not even 12 hours later, my feeling of sheer bliss was snatched away from me with a phone call from my good friend Ray-Ray. She was near tears.
With anger and disbelief in her voice, she was like, “Anthony, Prop 8 passed. What the hell is wrong with America?” Ray Ray was talking about the statewide ballot initiative that bans same-sex marriage.
“How could people not see this is unfair?” Ray Ray demanded. Her being my home girl, usually I have a good answer for everything. But this time, I was as dumbfounded as she was.
“I don’t know, Ray,” I replied, “Everything happens for a reason. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise.”
Ray says, “I’m going to start a riot.”
“Me too, Ray, me too.”
Yes on Prop 8 used all kinds of underhanded tricks to persuade people to believe in their ignorance. Like running an ad trying to convince me that second graders will decide to be gay after learning about gay marriage in school. For the record, I never decided to be gay.
America has come a long way from a time where black people couldn’t vote to having a black president. But I should have known it was too good to be true for both civil rights issues I care about most to change in the same election. One out of two is OK, but in school, 50 percent is still an F.