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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Post-election blues

...her eyes sought, sore from having attempted, through the night, to divine a future, some grey dawn, or blackness, a promise of storm. But the lifting of night carried to her only the cheerful promise of an unexpectedly bright day. The sun rose, as she knew it had done for hundreds of millions, if not billions, of years. Yet could she share in the cheer, knowing that her world had just been conquered by millions of fanatics, the single springboard of whose activism was the unwavering belief that this same sun had been rising for less than ten thousand years? It was, for her, the dawn of a new Dark Age. How long before the uniformed goons would begin coming for her people, by ones and twos? This had been known to happen .... and the next time it would be personal.

For she had made the mistake of being born into a man’s body. It could have happened to anyone, but it had happened to her. And now, she had but to announce her inward truth in order to earn the stigma of sin, and perhaps, with it, isolation, loss, imprisonment, or, easily enough, death.

But she was aware of Pastor Martin Niemöller who had said of the Nazis, “First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

And she remembered with pride that she had worked against unjust wars and against the denial of civil rights to African- Americans and to women. But she realized she had been quiet in the matter of systematic maltreatment and stigmatizing of gays and lesbians for too long. Her reason? At last she understood. The danger is greatest where one is most akin to the targeted. She had hidden well. She had hidden for fifty-two years.

Now, as so often happens, the walls had begun to crumble. She had begun to see counselors, doctors, an electrologist. She chose a name. She joined support and advocacy groups. She came out in a guest editorial in a regional newspaper. Only to see, of course, that her kind had reached a sort of high tide, that once more the haters were girding themselves with the power to deny to her not mere civil rights, but food to eat, air to breathe, light of day.

“Well,” she sighed, “just in time to speak out for someone, somewhere, no doubt, before the darkness closes in. I do hope, wherever he is now, Niemöller will put in a kind word for me. I mean, it would only be fair, hm? Now that he’s, um, kind of a saint?”

Suddenly she remembered a passage from the very book the persecutors loved best: Matthew 25:31-46. The only place their man-god tells them how the day of Judgment actually works. “I was sick, in prison, hungry, naked, etc. And you people took care of me,” and then turns a baleful eye on the others, “and you other people definitely did not.” With consequences.

She was cornered once by missionaries and had tried this bit on them, and they were quick to point out that the man-god had qualified this passage by adding “if you did it for any of these,” presumably gesturing toward the good guys. Meaning them. But she stood her ground that time. “And how are we to know in advance,” she asked, “which sick, naked, hungry, and thirsty prisoner that we take care of is gonna qualify us? Suppose they convert on their deathbed, twenty years later, because I was there for them and they remembered it?” The missionaries beat a comical retreat. They would have none of it ... but she’d always wondered. Seemed like a good text. Like the one about treating others as you yourself wish to be treated. A pretty sane man-god. Pretty insane followers.

‘Kay, so here’s what she’s going to do. Out herself, not just in the papers, but right here on her own web site. Announce that she has a perfectly normal condition, in the sense that the medical profession knows of this condition and specifies a course of treatment that is relatively humane and straightforward.

And she will note, in passing, that there are everywhere those whose condition is similar to hers in the eyes of the world, and that the world, and particularly its religious Pharisees that are so legion, have always seen to it that these "abominations," from early childhood, will be stripped of dignity and livelihood and consigned to sickness, hunger, thirst, and imprisonment. She will advocate for her people, day and night.

And the Pharisees? She knows that their man-god will, some day, turn upon them the eye of judgment, saying, “what have you done to my people? Did I not tell you that my strength is made perfect in weakness?”

-- risa b


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