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Sticks and Stones

I stood at the intersection of Magnolia and Pierce Street for four hours yesterday with a sign that said “Vote No on 8 – Unfair and Wrong.”
It was an unforgettable experience. I got lots of honks and thumbs up. Some took pictures of me with their camera phones and others waved as they sped through my intersection.
I also got plenty of angry shouts and people giving me the finger. People shook their heads and scowled.
I lost count of how many times I heard people yell, “F— you faggot!” People threw food and other objects at me. I got spit at twice, once missing me, the second time not.
Standing alone on the island where four lanes meet, I discovered that solidarity stings.
My younger brother is gay. I was thinking about him each time someone yelled “faggot” and flipped me off. My eyes stung as wave after wave of hatred washed over me with the ebb and flow of traffic. Some times I held back tears, other times I couldn’t.
People chanted, jeered, yelled, and cursed.
Some people smiled, and their smiles helped me to stand up straighter and hold my sign higher though the muscles in my back and shoulders were burning. When a young woman slowed at the corner, rolled down her window and yelled “thank you”, my eyes burned some more.
I wish that I could have been a sponge to absorb the hatred that flew out of car windows if it could have shielded my brother from it all. I wish I could have soaked it up and left their pools of anger dry, but I guess hate doesn’t work that way. It breeds in the dark but seems to grow each time it sees daylight.
The thing is, at the end of the day, I was able to go home and put down my sign and return to my wife and wash the spit off my shirt. But my brother can’t do that. For him, this is a daily reality. He can’t walk away from it.
I think that everybody ought to experience this some time.
Everyone ought to hear the sound of the words Fuck you screamed over the din of rush hour traffic. Everyone ought to know the humiliation of being spit on by a stranger. Everyone ought to experience what it feels like to be the object of raw animosity and ridicule, and for just a little while, everyone ought to be on the receiving end of unbridled hatred.
Because if everyone knew the feeling, maybe, just maybe, there would be fewer people cursing and spitting and throwing things out on the roads of this Christian nation.
Maybe…becuase for the first time as I stood on that island clutching my sign, I recognized the sound of my own voice, yelling, taunting, shouting “Go home faggot.” I realized that sometimes I’m the one who curses and screams, and my eyes burned once more.
p.s. this story is not really about Prop 8

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