All Families Include All Kinds Of People
I have been thinking a lot about Putin and anti-gay legislation in Russia, and worrying about LGBT families there. And how I’m going to convince everyone I know to care about this issue and to boycott Sochi in one way or another.
The problem with getting people to care about anything is that they usually don’t until it’s right in front of them. Here in Toronto we’ve gotten really good at not caring about things and people when they’re right next to us on the TTC, or in front of us on the sidewalk, or sleeping on a grate outside the local library. It’s really hard to get most people to care about anything at all unless it’s going to affect their family directly.
My aunt just got married. My family on my dad’s side has never been very close. I have never met either of his sisters and I never got know my grandmother. My aunt and I have spoken on the phone a few times over the years and we’ve emailed and written letters. She lives in Arizona and she has my whole life. She’s also had a partner for as long as I can remember, a woman named Marlene. The two of them have sent pictures of their matching tuxedos for the symphony, their dogs, their home. They are as married as any two people can be.
In the state of Arizona they still can’t legally wed but the federal government of the United States now promises to honour all marriages, regardless of state laws. So the two of them got married two weeks ago in San Diego. It is a huge relief for my dad. He hasn’t articulated it but I can tell that it’s a weight off of his shoulders. For my aunt, it means that she can quit the crappy job that she’s been working through her retirement years just for the health benefits. She will finally be covered under her wife’s plan.
Even though they live hundreds of miles away and we have never met, these women are my family. I am so happy for them; their happiness and mine are intertwined.
Yesterday I met a man with autism who was working on designing spaces that specifically address concerns for people with autism. He described some of the ideas that he’d come up with but then added that a world that was more sensitive to the needs of people who have autism would also be a better place for the rest of us. He spoke with great sensitivity about the nuances of social interaction. As someone who periodically suffers from anxiety I completely appreciated what he was saying. There is a value to caring about how everybody else is doing.
A letter supposedly written by Vladimir Putin was published by the New York Times on September 11. Ironically, it’s titled “A Plea For Caution From Russia” (a state that shows no sense of caution in imprisoning people based on the simple fact of their birth or ripping children from the arms of loving parents who happen to be gay).
Too many otherwise intelligent friends of mine have been sharing this letter on Facebook and Twitter, as though this well-crafted manipulation likely written by a team of 25 political analysts and 2 hard-pressed intellectuals is a refutation of Putin’s evil. Giving the man a platform in which to appear sane is a terrible move most likely inspired by the desire to sell get more ‘hits’ and sell more papers.
What Putin can tell me is just how far this planet has left to go before it is a safe place for my family. He can make his country inhospitable to people that I love, and therefore to myself. He can make an overt mockery of Olympic ideals in a way the world hasn’t seen since 1936. He can turn back the clock on an entire country, dragging it into the past while the rest of the modern world pushes for tolerance.
It is in all of our interests to stop him.