Monday, October 26, 2009

Empowerment. Ka-lu, Ka-lay.

I've never been a very political person. I've always fell in between places. Lucky to be born with such privilege, I'm able to sneak through the cracks without doing any action of my own. Being apathetic to the causes, I've sort of just existed. How cowardly I have been, to let others do the work for me while I sit and reap the benefits? I mean it's easier, right? To not have an opinion. To be okay with the injustices surrounding me just because I can live decently. But this is unfair to my peers and to the future. This is unfair to the decades of work laid forth by generations before me. This is unfair to my self, to the Henry inside.

DC has been a wake-up call to me as an individual. I've been able to stand up for my beliefs, act upon my civil duties, and challenge the injustices surrounding me. My work being done in the ACLU has given me access to people with such passions the provide me with empowerment. I've been able to see colleagues fight for DC Statehood, broadcasting their battle across DC public television. I've seen court cases on the freedom of speech/assembly for citizens marching on Adams Morgan. I've been exposed to issues of police misconduct, issues surrounding ex-offenders, looking towards justice. Controversy stands behind many of these issues, but in the end it is about my freedoms as an American. It is about resisting stagnancy in hopes of creating a better tomorrow.

Just today I was given the opportunity to view a public hearing on the proposed 'Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act' in DC. Hundreds of people came to speak to the DC city council bearing their testimony as to their reasonings behind whether marriage should be allowed among LGBT partners. Both parties, for and against the bill, were present. It was awe-inspiring to see such passion on the issue. Stories about a brother who has seen his siblings marry and just wishes for that same right for the person he loves. Stories of pastors who have been hurt by the council members focusing on LGBT issues when more pressing issues are at hand, like job-loss. Stories of DC residents wanting to hold the hand of their partner, not out of protest but for compassion. Each story rang out speaking to the power of democracy.

I was able to march on Washington a few weeks ago. The energy surging through my feet, through the streets. Each person there to be heard. I walked for equality. For justice. It was democracy in action. Tens of thousands walked beside me, marching towards those steps, the steps I saw on the old School House Rocks episode, the steps of the capital. It makes so much sense for love to be deemed equal. To see same-sex couple's families, families just like mine used to be, fighting and playing and walking the streets gave me hope. Hope of a better tomorrow where I can stand among many, stand among those trying to be next to normal. I stand within the margins prouder each day. To be fearful is to allow the downtrodders to trample. Take the reigns and act! Although the road is uncertain and the rope slick, I know there will be a destination. As I pass the threshold of identity, it becomes clear, just be ME. I need to choose dignity and happiness over my desire to please others, because in the end, babe, I just have me.

It's a gorgeous day. Ka-lu, Ka-lay. The sun is beating against my cheek. Colors surrounding me roar endlessly, cascading into my veins. The Autumn air devours the pigments of the colored leaves and sweeps them gently into my lungs. I want to bottle this up. Bottle up the color and the sounds, the sweetness on my lips. It's a beautiful day in DC.

The sky draws her happy hands downwards, her fingertips brushing by my chin. Beaming, I close my eyes, waiting for her to say, "buddy, I'm proud of you."

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