Friday, March 20, 2009

Phase Change

Travel Advisory: Severe Navel Gazing Ahead.

It seems a defining habit of mine, one that I can often see play out here, has to be my way of dealing with threat. Typically, my emotions won’t run their course until I feel the threat has passed. As I've written before, if we hear a bump in the night, I never feel fear; instead I methodically search the house like it's a game. I don’t first feel sadness over the death of our family dog; I go calmly hunting for the coyote that killed him. When Rob and I suffered loss trying to become parents; it would be weeks later before I did all I could to get us back on track and I could finally relax my drive and let that loss run me over.

I'm not complaining; when I whiteness the options on other human models, I’m glad I’m built how I am. I experience happiness in real time, and negative emotions are delayed until dissolved by the solution I find, or at least dulled by the realization of the problem’s irreversibility. It’s probably why I’m one of the happier people I know.

Trouble is, though, I look back now and I see I’ve keenly felt my family has been under threat in Utah since we became parents, six years ago. That’s a long time to be putting off, to be vigilant. In that time I have, of course, tried to fix the problem. Maybe it's because people don't know us? Maybe it's because they don't have the facts? Maybe it just takes political energy? I can take all that on, right? They make me feel I can take anything on. So I worked on everything from to political campaigns… so many editorials (you catch my last one? ;-)). Each little bit making me feel like I'm doing something to protect them and each, of course, too small to dent such a huge problem.

I’m hunting that damned coyote, and have been for a long long time.

Recently, Proposition 8, the “Common Ground” losses, the increased local social hostility, the "love" "respect" and "civility" of those aiming to harm us legally... all that really stepped it up an order of magnitude for me this year. That's a lot to hold for later, and it hit me harder than I noticed, and I noticed a good deal.

I can see myself trying to go back to my habit, the day after the vote, and put off feeling it until I fix it. However, I know I can't fix this one--it takes time and many more people--and I've written that before, but I have to get it through my head. This often helpful habit of mine has become a dam on this issue, holding back six years of GLBT political weather and last year we had record rainfall. And yeah, I know, it has been cracked and has been leaking all over my blog (me and my metaphors... :-)).

Funny thing is I didn't realize the extent to which I'm tired of this fight until someone in power yesterday, out of the blue, offered to help me and the gay community in a little corner of local government. It just took someone to offer to help to make me realize I needed it, like someone offering to take my place at a guard post; only then I felt how tired I was.

Then, as if the universe was trying to drive home the point that I can't win against such threats, we found a neighborhood cat yesterday, killed in our yard by the material forms of my metaphorical threat, those coyotes (Apologies to new readers here who don't understand why I'm going on about coyotes. These animals have been a long time issue with our neighborhood, and my reaction to them strikes me as similar to my reaction to political threats here in Utah; just search the blog :-)). I guess the fauna indigenous to Utah, be they in the wild or in our wild legislature, won't be caught and won't stop following their instinct, and so I can't keep dealing with it like it was just any other one-time threat with a solution I could reach if I only focus more, work on it more, put off anger just another day.

Anyway, to be responsible for a gay-headed family in Utah… I fear if we lived the rest of our lives here, I’d be waiting the rest of our lives to finally let the water out of that dam. But don't get me wrong. This may sound like a gloomy post, but it just took letting it out with Rob and I'm in good spirits. I'm just realizing more and more that I can't treat this problem like others we might face, and am writing this down in the hopes it will eventually sink in.


Java said...

This makes a lot of sense, and helps bring some previous things you have said into perspective. I remember a few months ago, (time does strange things with me. It may have been 2, maybe 12 months ago) you had a post about being very, very tired. Physically tired in some sense, but mostly emotionally tired. If I recall, you weren't as sure then about what was tiring you out so.

I've gotten some hints here about you deciding to move away from Utah. I won't agree or disagree with you specifically, since there are too many unknown variables for me to make a call. However, if indeed you do move away from there, may I suggest you try to find some place that doesn't have coyotes.

Ned said...

Hey Scot, I understand why you want to leave and that you probably will, but it will be a loss to our state.

I guess I'm going through the classic denial, anger, bargaining stages of loss. But as a part of that bargaining I must ask to what degree you have considered other Utah communities for your residence? I don't know where you live, but I do know that in my Salt Lake City ward boundaries there are two out lesbian couples, one with children, and they seem to have put down roots. The couple with children has done extensive remodeling and they appear to be here for the long haul, and I'm glad about that and wish your were here among us too.

Anyway my point is that if you're living in surburbia somewhere maybe Salt Lake City's more progressive policies might be more to your liking. Park City also comes to mind. But trying to face reality I know that it's not really your city, it's this state, our legislature and culture that are causing your concerns.

I know I'm being selfish and you've got to do what works best for your whole family. Thank you for hearing me out and good luck.

Rosemary said...

First time commenter on here, but I just wanted to commend you for your courage despite how hard it obviously is on you. I've been in the same position and I know how much of a toll it takes on you, but I hope you and your family find a way to work around it and do what's best for you.

We're rooting for you.
- Rosemary

Scot said...

Java: "may I suggest you try to find some place that doesn't have coyotes."

The animals or the political animals? :-) Yeah, I'm sick of worrying about them taking the dog... or hurting the boys. They killed even a German shepherd in the neighborhood just a couple blocks away.

Ah, Ned, thank you. You're right, though. We do live in suburbia, but it's perfectly tolerable where we are. It's the politics, the necessity to fight in this state, the way it may leak into the minds of our kids or their classmates. We may do just fine here but I hope, if in another state, I won't be so compelled to always be on the defense. You can always hope the job market gets so bad I'll never find a good way out :-).

Hi there and welcome, Rosemary! And thank you much for the encouragement.