In 2008, I was a recent transplant to the city of Los Angeles. I reveled in the diversity and in the social atmosphere—one very different from what I’d known in my previous rural town. My friends and colleagues in graduate school were of different backgrounds, different ethnicities, and different sexualities, but we all shared mostly liberal sensibilities—not unusual, as our program had “social justice” in its unofficial title.
Proposition 8 appeared on the scene, and my friends and I all agreed it was disgusting that ‘a group’ had dared to introduce this proposal in our state. I attended protests in my small corner of the city, and I remember being surrounded by likeminded people and being so happy to see the crowds—all these humans in support of equality, proving the world had changed.
Then came November 4th. I sat at my computer staring at the results of the voting, shock and confusion casting me adrift in the world I thought I knew. It had really passed? In beautiful, liberal California? How was this possible?
My husband came home and found me that way, and he shook his head sadly. “There’re a lot of people who still just don’t like gay anything,” he said.
And yeah, I knew that. But this many people, here? How did I miss that?
Perhaps because I was living in a bubble. A bubble of people who believed the things I did, and being with them for so many hours of the day had skewed my perception. As a newcomer to the state I wasn’t fully aware of the social climate. I’d forgotten to look beyond my immediate field of vision. Doing so isn’t always an easy task—the world can be ugly out there, and it can be painful. But it’s necessary, for me. Necessary that I don’t let myself be blindsided again.
I spoke at a Con once about the dangers of tailoring our lives to our desires. It’s easy enough to do these days, to avoid the things that make us cringe and surround ourselves with our favorites. I can regulate my social media streams and block my triggers and subscribe to my preferred news sources. And that’s not all terrible (certainly less stressful), but I believe I should cast my net wider than just what I want to see. For one thing, if I don’t I may miss out on the opportunity to discover something new, to change for the better or to grow. For another, once I am steadfast in a belief, I may not be prepared to face those who are opposed to it—I should know what they are saying, thinking, and doing in order to be ready for the fight.
And that’s why I’m thankful for the pizza fundraiser. It’s big enough news that it breaks through many people’s bubbles and shakes us to the core. It reminds us just how many people still fight against equal rights, just how many people still hold hatred for others disguised as love for themselves in their hearts. Yes, the world is changing, but the battle is not over.
I wasn’t that surprised by the outcome of the pizza fundraiser—my husband and I both predicted it would happen when the 1-star yelp reviews first appeared—but I know many people who were shocked and disgusted. Good. Let’s channel that into forward momentum.
The LGBTQ Push Back Charity Giveaway is in support of LGBTQ teens. Three charities have been set up in response to that pizza parlor one, and authors and publishers are offering 224 prizes to people who donate and/or share about the fundraiser. I’m including either of my titles and the Social Skills audiobook. Details/entry can be found here:
Thanks for reading!