I lifted this image from Towleroad- not sure who else to credit, but for a little drag queen who grew up in the deep south, this says it all. By the time I came along, the signs were taken down, but the water fountains were still there. I remember asking Momma when we would go into public buildings- "Why are there 2 water fountains" and she would say, "I don't know, sweetie." She knew.
One day I asked Daddy, and he said: "that one used to be for the colored folks, but they can use either one now." And I said "why don't they take that old, ugly one away?" And he said "I don't know, sweetie." But he knew, too. My parents were raised in an environment that didn't recognize the races as equal. When laws changed, they tried to teach us the "right" thing. But I don't know that their beliefs ever really changed, because the only black person they knew was Joyce, the lady that cleaned our house twice a week. "My colored girl", Momma used to call her. "I've had her for years, and I don't know what I'd do without her. The kids love her", she would tell her friends.
In the 4th grade, a black girl started in my school. Her name was Jade. I can't imagine what is was like for her and her little sister, the only 2 African American children in a school full of white teachers, students, and principals. The only other African American was Mr. Brooks, the janitor, who ate his lunch every day in the pine-sol scented broom closet just outside the cafeteria. In junior high, there were a lot more African American kids. My best friend was Sherry Fontenot, and she played first chair flute and I was first chair clarinet. Her mother taught 8th grade in our school. She and her sister were both cheerleaders. I loved them all, and they were my friends. We were aware that our skin was different colors, and we knew many in our little southern city would judge our friendship, but we didn't care. And people learned that we hung out together, did stuff together, were great friends, and nothing bad happened! It wasn't the end of the world for white and black kids to be friends! It was a turning point in my life, and I hope others saw the joy our friendship brought each other and realized that it's okay to step outside of what you were "taught" to accept an idea that is different!
Even when prop 8 is repealed, our marriages are reconized, and we win the legal battles we are fighting, there will STILL be 2 water fountains in the oldest public buildings in places like Lake Charles, La. And there will STILL be bigotry, hatred, and distrust.
The best thing we can do is reach out to people who may have voted for prop 8, one at a time, to win them over as human beings. Think about the people with whom you work, who ride your bus or train, or serve you coffee- or you serve them coffee. You see them every day, and interact with them. But have you connected with them? Have you won them over as a person?
I'm not asking you to discuss politics, gay marriage, or prop 8 with them. Just be nice. Real nice. And be yourself. You just may become the only gay person that they know. And that may be all it takes to make a difference.