Monday, November 10, 2008

Participated as a panelist in a radio wrap-up of the presidential election ... .

That was Sunday afternoon.

I arrived at the offices of The Globe, a local African American Newspaper with a radio division. The moderator is a friend of long-standing and someone I find it difficult to say no to -- ever.

The other two panelists were a columnist for the newspaper and a young fourth grade teacher from the local school district. Both were male.

I was in a foul mood for reasons unclear at the time, and I'm afraid it showed. I felt myself increasingly combative with one of the panelists; at odds with his opinions more often than not. Though it was an internal battle that was being waged with myself and I suspect hardly showed except harmlessly. Not sure about the why of it, but some of the not so subtle irritation had to do with what I heard as his inexplicable conservatism. His cautious attitude was annoying, though this was someone I'd never met before, so such feelings were clearly irrational.

I heard myself say at one point, "...O Lordy, I expect any minute now to hear you say -- with all deliberate speed!" I was clearly the most liberal (does that word still mean what it used to?) among the three of us, and that surprised me. I would have imagined that young people would be far more daring and "progressive." It was not to be. They were as old and as measured and as conservative (if that word still means what I thought it did) as one might imagine about men twice their age. Though the teacher was clearly more of a free thinker than the columnist, who was a Stanford grad and an attorney -- and clearly right of center.

I suppose I wasn't ready yet to get out of my paper hat, and felt that my parade was being rained on. It may have been as simple as that.

I may be in a confetti mood for days!

But then the irritation may have been related to excruciatingly painful events I was subconsciously trying hard to smother ... it's that time of year.

Tomorrow I will be in uniform participating in Veterans Day observances on board the SS Red Oak Victory at Shipyard 3. I'll speak a few words to the visitors in the planned ceremony and will participate in the flower tribute. I will be representing Rosie the Riveter WWII/Home Front National Historical Park, officially. The ceremony will be an emotional one for me; though no one will know.

It was from the deck of the Red Oak Victory that I scattered the ashes of my eldest son, Dale Richard Reid, 8 years ago, in the autumn of the year 2000. I held his remains in my hand -- combined them with beautiful red roses as I let them drop over the rail -- one by one -- into the waters below. It was just 18 months after Rick and I had scattered the remains of his partner, Gordon Higgins in the same manner -- from this ship.

Their's had been an 18 year monogamous relationship that ended with their deaths, just months apart. Two lives destroyed by a thinly-veiled staggered act of suicide brought on by alcoholism and the heartbreak of lifelong social rejection.

On the same day that brought such exaltation with the Obama victory ... Proposition 8 passed in the state of California overturning the right of same sex couples to marry. There is great irony in the fact that the same African American voters who helped to bring the great joy of the election of Barack Obama-- voted simultaneously to take away the precious right of others to wed. How in the world could anyone choose against the right to love? What a tragic juxtaposition of events!

I'm only becoming aware as my fingers tap the keys -- why I was so irritated at the taping. Small wonder, right?

How I wish I could have influenced those who voted away the rights of others ... how I wish they could realize the pain of rejection inflicted upon so many who so recently were given the right to wed ... but then, how on earth could African Americans not know? Is that not the stony road that we've just traveled?

I'll stand at the rail tomorrow and drop red roses into the waters, again. This time for all those who perished in all of the wars of our time and before. I'm certain that this struggle, too, will one day be won -- but please, let no one suggest that it will happen "with all deliberate speed"!

Then -- if I'm lucky -- I'll try to get back into my paper hat for another round of exaltation -- once I get past the tears ... .

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