picket sign decrying Prop. 8 in one hand and the other pressed against his
temple, Darryl Janssen’s face was puffy and red when we saw each other Tuesday
morning in the Civic
Center. As I pulled him
into a tight embrace, he began to cry. In fact, the one-time Mr. Hayes Valley
Leather titlist began to sob. “It’s just so unfair,” he managed as his body
heaved, “I wish my husband was here right now.”
so there I was, calmly consoling a newfound but still very dear friend in the
center of McAllister Street
on May 27, 2009. It was barely 10 am, but it was already an emotional morning
in front of City Hall. The California Supreme Court upheld the electoral ban of
same-sex marriages while grandfathering in the more than 18,000 LGBT couples
already legally wed. Darryl and his partner Dan Alexander were among those
fortunate enough to be married while it was still legal, but that did little to
appease Darryl. “So we’re a protected class of people now?” he asked
I told him, seemingly too exhausted to even muster his righteous indignation,
“It means you’re an endangered species on the verge of extinction.”
before, when the ruling was announced, I was standing with Bevan Dufty. Though
the San Francisco District 8 Supervisor and I were both saddened, neither of us
proved particularly surprised or even outwardly emotional. As pointed out by
Rafael Mandelman, who plans to run for Bevan’s current seat when the Supe makes
a bid for Mayor in 2011, it was hard to be surprised when the outcome was
exactly as so many in-the-know predicted.
like we have to take this back to the ballot,” Bevan finally said with
resignation. Once again, I was surprised to find myself completely devoid of
emotion on the subject.
was a far cry from the highs of my rather amazing weekend. Thursday at The
Crib, Shannel from Season 1 of RuPaul’s Drag Race introduced Anjie Myma and me
as Bay Area front-runners to be cast on Season 2. (I am still holding at #7 in
the country, mind you, and ever-so-slowly gaining on #6, New York City sensation Hedda Lettuce.) The
following day, I performed with Trannyshack on the main stage at Lesbian &
Gay Day at California’s Great America, the same stage where the Sisters of
Perpetual Indulgence later “sainted” Harvey Milk’s nephew Stuart and legendary
Erasure singer Andy Bell headlined.
evening, I was honored to close the sold-out Trannyshack: Madonna Tribute at
the Cat Club, performing “Erotica” with Anjie, Sandra O. Noshi-Di’n’t, Cher
Nobyl, Eric Schuman and Javier Ruiz. The following day, while hosting my
second-annual Memorial Day “Recovery” party at Lookout, I was shocked by a surprise
visit from DJ Luke Johnstone, DJ Wayne G and Andy Bell himself!
by Tuesday morning, all of that adrenaline was gone. Even after a full night’s
sleep, I stood outside the State Surpreme Court Building drained both of energy
and emotion, it seemed.
feel numb,” I confessed to Bevan, Darryl and my friends Alfred McGuigan and
reigning “Emperor” Paul “Maka” Poole, who had shared with me earlier that day
the tremendous success of the Judy Shepherd fundraiser he cosponsored with
Donna Sachet, raising over $12,500 for charity. Given how fired up, how
incredibly gung-ho, I’d been during previous protests, my apparent lack of
attachment baffled me. Yet since waking up that day, knowing the court ruling
was hanging in the balance, I felt a kind of apathy I could only attribute to a
sense of defeat.
having no steam of my own to blow off, I joined my friends as we ventured
toward the rally blocking Van Ness and Grove Streets. Earlier, a well-dressed
woman in an eggshell skirt suit and matching vintage shoes had caught my eye.
Now she was leading a chant. “Civil rights under attack, what do we do?” she
called, to which the crowd responded, “Stand up, fight back!”
equality under attack, what do we do?” “Stand up, fight back!”
then my apathy was gone, but it was not replaced by the spirited sense of civil
disobedience that drove the hundreds holding that intersection. Nor was I
filled with the fury of so many others around us, including Alfred – nee, Tyia
Munro – who was a hair’s breadth from full-on angry-black-girl mode.
I found myself crying, then sobbing just as Darryl had nearly an hour before.
In all honesty, I couldn’t control myself. As one who so seldom shows such
emotions – much less in a crowded thoroughfare – I was suddenly overwhelmed,
self-conscious and embarrassed. Quickly I tried moving away from the crowd, out
of the sight of my friends, but they would have none of it.
seconds Paul and Alfred caught up, wrapping their arms around me, holding me.
And while Alfred cursed under his breath at those who had taken our rights from
us, the Emperor and I wept as we walked. Before we reached Market Street, I’d
regained my composure, but a tremendous sadness washed over me.
go to The Mix,” Alfred suggested, “Girl, I need a cocktail.”
you still smell like liquor from last night!” I said dryly.
no she didn’t!” Tyia responded bitterly, which left Paul and me no choice but
to laugh. Alfred soon joined in. We were still chuckling when we got off Muni
in the Castro, even as we walked past newscasters polling passers-by about
their feelings on the Court’s decision.
I am certainly not happy to have the right to marry pulled from beneath us, I
firmly believe it to be only a temporary setback. As I walked down the street
arm-in-arm with those two people I love very much, something else occurred to
me. The gay community has never relied on the outside world to validate or
understand our relationships, and even the state Supreme Court can’t negate what
I know in my heart.
when it comes to friendships, it would take a helluva lot more than a simple
majority and a Court ruling to make those relationships seem any less real. And
while those 18,000 same-sex couples might be a protected and endangered
species, in our community, good friends are anything but on the verge of
Glamazon” currently ranks #7 of more than 700 hopefuls for Season 2 of RuPaul’s
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