CHOCOLATE AND PIZZA
20 October 2003
There were many lovely things about being in Australia, but one was feeling totally,
completely removed from the issues of the day.
I missed the entire California circus of electing a movie star to be governor, just
because, as one woman I heard interviewed before I left said, "He's....the
TERMINATOR!" I missed all the brouhaha surrounding the elevation of The
Terminator to "Governor Pinchbottom" and I'm just as happy for it.
I never felt threatened by nuclear bombs from anyone, nor mourned the loss of American
life on foreign shores, because I never knew about it. I never heard George Bush's voice
once in six weeks. Peggy doesn't watch the news or subscribe to a newspaper.
When you live in a politically active city, such as Davis, and when you have very
politically active friends, you are aware of the issues at all times, and I have to admit
that it was lovely not to know anything.
I knew whether there were galahs nesting in the eucalyptus. I knew that it would
probably rain because the black cockatoos were singing. I knew that Chippa had somehow
bloodied her foot. I knew that the wind was coming in by the way the water out at sea
looked. I knew about the house repairs at Janne and Chris's house and the poisonous snake
that Julie killed (which turned out to be a legless lizard).
I couldn't control those events any more than I could control world events (or state
events or city events), but I was much happier (read: more relaxed) only having to deal
with those things that had direct effect on my life for those lovely six weeks.
Today I returned to reality with a bang.
My first visit outside the house was to Shelly and Ellen, whom I suspect many regard as
the token gay couple in Yolo County. They have worked tirelessly for gay rights, and are
currently very active with Marriage Equality issues and so, needless to say, once I had
given them the gift I'd brought from Australia and we had thoroughly dissected my
walkabout, they began to fill me in on what has been happening on the political scene in
It happens to be Pride Day on the campus (UC Davis) and so we walked up there (since I
had no Keno and Chippa to walk, I walked with Shelly and Ellen....I'm not used to this heat
though!!!). As we walked, they filled me in on the latest crisis.
Shortly before the recall, Governor Davis signed bill AB250, which grants all the
privileges and responsibility of marriage to same sex partners in committed relationships.
Now there is a big movement afoot not only to repeal that bill, but the previous bill
passed a few years ago, which gave minimal rights to same sex partners. Should the
proposed new bill (the number of which I have forgotten) pass, same sex partners will
return to having no rights whatsoever. They will have to fight for visitation rights in
the hospital, to bury their partners, etc., etc., etc. down the list of that 1,000+ rights
which married couples have which are denied to same gender partners.
After a long hard-won, but victorious battle, they have to turn around and fight it all
over again, in what promises to be a long, drawn-out, ugly confrontation, no matter how it
Straight people never think about things like this--that gay people have to fight for
basic rights every single day and after they finally win the battle, some idiot decides
they shouldn't have those rights anyway, introduces another bill to take all the rights
away and the next battle starts. All for the right to live quietly, without bothering
anyone, just live as their other neighbors do. But the fact of their existence
bothers some so much that they must continually throw up obstacles to just living life
from day to day.
Shelly and Ellen are not only involved in this battle, but they have been working with
the group dealing with same gender partners from different countries, and what a painful
thing that is. They told of the INS showing up at someone's door in the middle of the
night and removing the non-citizen from the home without giving them a chance to pack
anything, putting them on a plane back to their home country, where, in some cases, being
outed as homosexual is a certain death threat.
They shared story after story of people whose only crime was falling in love with
someone from a different country and then discovering that neither country was willing to
admit the partner on a permanent basis, so they were forced to either separate forever, or
to have one person living in constant fear of being discovered as an illegal alien.
We went to the Pride rally at the University to attempt to enlist the help of the
students in fighting the upcoming bill. It took me back to my old Berkeley days, the
strident speeches, the zeal and idealism and the "I can change the world"
attitude. And quite an education watching Shelly and Ellen work the crowd in picking the
right people to talk with about getting help in fighting the fight.
The problem with students is that gender issues are such non-issues for them (no
big deal if you're gay/straight/bisexual/transgendered/whatever) that they don't think
it's worth campaigning or even voting. But Ellen and Shelly are old hands at networking. I
just stood back, sweating, eating melted chocolate and pizza, which they were giving away
to people who showed up at the rally, and watched them target key people who can help
enlist students in the new battle.
I came home with my conscience raised a little bit, but kind of longing for the lovely
peace and serenity of a home with no newspaper and no TV news, where the biggest concern
of the day was whether or not there was enough time to hang up the wash before the rains
came in. (And where I could probably make just as much difference in the world as I could
standing on the campus at UC Davis, with melted chocolate in my hand.)