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May 5, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 18
 
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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

 

 



 
Tour De Life by Beau Burriola
Equals
I sat watching the march from the steps of the Financial Building. The afternoon sun cast sun rays through some of the tall skyscrapers and bounced them off of others. I was still wearing my work tie and I didn't have my jacket, but I blended easily into the sea of faces crowding downtown Seattle for as far as the eye could see.

I decided to stay around for the "Day Without Immigrants" because I wanted to see the faces. I wanted to look at these people the news stories described as "immigrants from all over," before adding decisively, "but mostly from Mexico."

Even in the Gay community, immigration is suddenly a big deal. Using ignorant words I thought Gay people let go of long ago, I've heard Queer folks say some down right ignorant things about foreign people, as if channeling Ken Hutchinson on another tired rant, insulting and hurting people he can't do a damn thing to change.

"You ain't never gonna really get to know someone," Grandma Patsy once told me with her gentle, hymn-singing voice, "until you sit down and talk to them." In her later years, she started volunteering at the food bank and had tons of stories about migrant families coming through our small town. I couldn't believe so many people would try so hard and risk so much just to get to a place I was trying to hard so get out of.

"I don't object to people coming over," my Uncle Danny barked in his twanging southern guffaw, deer hunting cap on his head and beer in hand "but I don't think they should just cut in line." Never mind that these evil, selfish line-cutters are running from an unsustainable existence. Never mind that the line is so long and the doorway so narrow that a lifetime can be wasted waiting. What Uncle Danny and so many others suggest, but can never quite say out loud, is that they think we should just send all these millions of people back to where they came from today, mostly Mexico, with nothing at all! Make them wait a decade to get through an impossible bureaucracy before they can expect to earn enough to eat or be safe! If he were in the same position as these people, I wonder if Danny would do anything to get across, too - legal or not? Is it easier for him to say what immigrants should do, sitting comfortably on this side of the dotted line?

Some Queer writers have suggested that since Latino cultures are opposed (or in some cases, outright hostile) to Gay rights, that they are undeserving of support from any Gay person. Others have complained that the use of long-owned Gay rights phrases like "equal rights, not special rights" in the immigration movement are nothing more than hijacking our cause. From atop ivory pink towers, these Gays - who at least have a right to live, work, gripe openly, and make electrolysis appointments - would deny a chance at sustenance to someone else.

Immigration is a Gay issue because all movements for equality are one and the same. They may start in different places with different people carrying different banners for different reasons, but eventually we all converge in that place we all are hoping for, beyond the point of differences and focused on what we all have in common. The only thing that matters with equality is treating people the same, whoever they are.

Immigrant rights and Gay rights are both about being treated equally. If Gay folk are going to scream for it, write it on banners, stitch it into equal signs for our patches, and commit to fighting for it; then we have to decide if that equality for stops after us or if it should continue to all people who just want a chance to be happy. Equality isn't about drawing a line based on differences; it's about breaking down and looking through the differences to seeing the people instead.

"You ain't never gonna really get to know someone," Grandma Patsy once told me with her hymn-singing gentle voice, "until you sit down and talk to them."



Beau Burriola is a local Queer guy doodling dew limericks on bus windows. E-mail: beaubrent@gmail.com
visit Beau at www.beaubrent.com

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