(The Vote4MarriageNC super gay victory cake)
In the early 90s my older brother came out to my mother as gay. My mom had been raised in the particularly unforgiving Church of Pentecostal Holiness–the one with the fire and brimstone and speaking in tongues–and by this time was decidedly liberal compared to her old Stokes County stomping grounds. By that I mean, she voted for Clinton (Lord forbid) and was the loudest soprano in her Southern Baptist church choir. At this time, though, she and my bro were still pretty sure being gay was wrong, and per my brother’s request spent a few months trying to “pray away” his desire to play doctor with the other altar boys. Despite their adorably earnest intentions, they eventually realized that not only was that pretty stupid and impossible, but it was also making my brother feel like shit all the time. Why force it, right? After throwing in the towel, the two of them said “fuck it” and went out to Legends together, still the most popular gay/drag club in NC.
We grew up in Raleigh, the “but why don’t you have an accent” capital of the mostly rural North Carolina. At the time of my brother’s identity crisis, I was only four years old. Granted, at four my friend Cameron and I got matching Jonathan Taylor Thomas haircuts, preparing ourselves for what would become a lifetime of genderplay and tom-boy-foolery that would put my straight-laced brother to shame. But at the time I had no idea what was going on. Without me knowing, the whole country was definitely getting gayer. But in the embarrassingly backwards town of Burlington, NC where my brother worked during his time at Wake Forest, he was “found out” as a queer by his employer, which was considered sexual harassment, and he was fired.
So let’s talk about this amendment. Yesterday, NC voters approved the constitutional amendment to restrict marriage to “one man and one woman,” passing at a staggering 61 percent to 39. The state already bans gay marriage but the amendment just makes it “super impossible” or something, while also banning civil unions and domestic partnerships. All that good stuff is reserved for GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE (that is, the gay men who refuse to come out and instead marry ugly women and spend an awful lot of time camping with the Boy’s Youth Group).
But like, isn’t it 2012? Hasn’t anything changed in the last 20 years? I think people in Raleigh (and Asheville, and Charlotte, and Chapel Hill where I live now) take for granted that we live in these isolated mini-Portlands amongst a sea of gay hating, cousin-fuckers who masturbate to Leviticus every night. And before you say anything, let it be known that marrying your first cousin is, in fact, legal in North Carolina, as well as in Alaska, Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington D.C. and your beloved Massachusetts. Fucking your cousin is the next big thing! Everyone is doing it! Kind of like how gay marriage is turning everyone into fags and encouraging lesbians to eat out their pets’ vaginas. In fact, I was only against the amendment because I wanted to marry my cat, but I guess we’ll just have to keep telling people we’re “roommates” until we get the rights we deserve.
At the earliest chance he got, my brother moved out of North Carolina. First to Chicago, then to Boston, and now he lives outside of Martha’s Vineyard. He’s not married, he doesn’t have kids. He’s never actively desired to recreate the gender-normative nuclear family (although he does have a boston terrier which he dresses in the finest Armani Exchange). Still, he wouldn’t mind having the option. Right now I see him about once a year, which is no one’s fault. But at a recent turning point in his life, he briefly considered moving back to be close to his family. That is, until the state pretty much rejected him. In fact, most of our family, including my mom’s five brothers, their wives and all their adult children, were part of the 61 percent that voted to take his rights. And it was because of Jesus (seriously, can somebody get this guy out of here?)
So what the fuck can we do? Is North Carolina just a microcosm for the entire U.S., where the masses of country mice who barely have dial-up are outnumbering us 2 to 1? Well, I don’t think so. Voter turnout was under 20 percent this time around, and while that’s pretty damn embarrassing, it means we’re not totally hopeless. If there’s one thing about idiots, it’s that they’re motivated. And conveniently for them, you can vote at your church. Not being totally ignorant is definitely not bliss, and yeah, sometimes all the fuckery in the world can get you down. But who knows what could have happened if a few more of the jaded and paranoid had dragged their asses to the polls. I’m leaving North Carolina next month for the bigger, brighter, more in-this-century New York City. But let it be known to North Carolina and the entire country: the Christians have long had their voices heard. In November, the stoners, the drunks and the cracked-out conspiracy theorists–the people with the real values–need to get off the couch and vote. Or the rest of the country is going to end up looking like Stokes County. And believe me. No one wants that.