Monday, November 17, 2008

Why the Rallies Matter

There's been all this negative talk among people about the Prop 8 protest rallies that we've been having in California and, today, across the country. If you read the blog comments and hear the talking heads commenting, they keep saying things like, "What's the point to the protests? You're not going to get the vote overturned by holding up signs." That may be true, but I think people are missing the real point of the protests.

For the past several years--in fact, the last 15 years or so--the gay community has been living in general complacency. After ACT-UP folded in the mid '90s, the gay rights movement virtually disappeared from site for a lot of us. We got so used to being part of the mainstream (thanks, "Will & Grace") that we've forgotten that there is still a lot of bigotry and intolerance in the world. When "Brokeback Mountain" came out and did so well at the box office, it was almost as if we'd finally been welcomed to the captain's table on "The Love Boat." We got this idea that mainstream society had finally accepted us. Or, to paraphrase the indelible Sally Field, "You liked us. You really liked us." Because of our increased visibility in the mainstream, we forgot that we still needed to work together to keep the momentum going. We moved to our gay ghettos and ate at our gay restaurants and went to our gay gyms and got so used to just being around other gay people, we started taking each other--and ourselves--for granted.

The one good thing about Prop 8 passing is that there's been a wake-up call in the gay community. Suddenly we got to see what a lot of people who said they embraced us and loved us really thought about us, and it wasn't pretty. They thought we were funny on TV and they loved our movies, but deep down, they still thought that we lived unnatural and immoral lives. The honeymoon with the rest of the world is now officially over, and we are once again forced to look within our own community for the support and encouragement that we need to get back out in the streets and tell the world that it's not OK to think of us as any less than any other human being. That's why these rallies have been so important. They are bringing us together again in a way that we haven't been for more than a decade, and they are mobilizing us to take action once again. We are now beginning to see how important it is for us to stay bonded and united in strength, not splintered into high school cliques, as we have been.

The rallies have gotten us out of the bars and the gyms and off the Internet hookup sites and into the streets. And the more rallies we have--the more time we spend coming together for the cause--the stronger we will become again, and this time, there will be no stopping us. This time, we'll get our equal rights, because we've tasted a little bit of what it feels like to be "accepted" in the world, and we aren't going to stand for anything less. These rallies may not get Prop 8 overturned, but WE will. Just you watch. You just can't keep a good gay down.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Christians & Mormons = Religious Fundamentalists/Terrorists

Yes, I've said it. It's become more and more obvious over the years that the Christian right and the Mormons are forcefully imposing their religious views on this country, a country founded upon the notion of freedom of religion. They've gone so far as to introduce propositions to take away civil rights in a country founded upon the notion of equality for all. To them, if you don't agree with their point of view, you're a heathen.

As a well-educated, free-thinking human, I deny the existence of a supreme being known as "God." I think the whole concept is complete and total rubbish, comparable to Greek mythology and fairy tales for people who feel the need to believe in something because they can't face the idea that maybe this is all there is. The idea that there is some all-knowing being living in the sky who is keeping track of who's being naughty and nice is one of the most ludicrous things I've ever heard, yet millions of Americans readily fall prey to this hooey. And for what? Salvation? A place at the Popular Table in the Sky? As if.

Do I think there is something bigger than all of us out there? Sure. But it's NOT God. God was invented by people who needed an explanation for their lives. I fully believe there is some kind of spiritual "energy" that connects us all, and that we will all be joined together again once our "energy" (i.e. souls) has returned to the fold, but this has nothing to do with the traditional concept of a judgmental "God."

Because this is America, I have the freedom to believe that without reproach. And because of this, it should follow that those who do believe in God should not be allowed to construct laws that affect my life--or the lives of anyone else who do not share their beliefs. Religious fanatics are forcing their faith onto people every day by using deceitful and unethical practices, resorting to lies and fear tactics, and bombing abortion clinics in the name of God, and it's nothing short of terrorism. It's absolutely no better than the suicide bombers that hijacked the 9/11 planes, and it needs to be stopped.

It's time for America to live up to its separation of church and state and tell religious fundamentalists to keep God out of our governing systems. We need to vote NO on Proposition 8 and take a stand for equality for all, regardless of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation or religious background. We need to vote NO on any proposition that is founded upon religious beliefs. We need to start living up to the principals that are set forth in our Constitution, and start living as free-thinking individuals who believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and to the same benefits and rights as anyone else. Until the Christian right and the Mormons are stopped, we will live in their fundamentalist stranglehold, and it's destroying this country more and more. Seriously, people, it's time to wake up and smell the "magic beans" that are being fed to us by the church. If you want to believe in God, that's your right, and I respect your right to practice it, but your religious beliefs have NO place in the laws that govern this land. It's that simple. Keep God out of it and vote the way Americans were supposed to: With BRAINS, not faith.

I'm Ken Knox, and I approve this message.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Participating in History

This weekend I got to go out and do something historical. Me and my best friend, Natalie, participated in a rally to support the defeat of Proposition 8, the California initiative that would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. I've always believed that in order for change to come about, people need to step up to the plate and do more than just talk about change, and this weekend I got to put my money where my mouth is.

It was the coolest experience being part of the rally. Our rally was held on all four corners of the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Hyperion Avenue in Silver Lake. When we first got there, there weren't all that many people around, but there were some who already had their signs and were holding them up as cars went by. We got our signs, chose our corner and got to work. We had been told to ignore the people who tried to confront us or yell at us. Surprisingly, there wasn't a whole lot of that going on. I would say that an overwhelming majority of the people driving by -- at least 65 to 70 percent of them -- were honking in our favor. Tons of people drove by giving up the "thumbs up" sign or shaking their fists in show of support. There were all types of people -- Latino families, straight couples, gay couples, single folk... everyone was out and showing their support. Lots of people walking by decided to grab a sign and join us.

Natalie and me had smoked a little weed before we got there, so were were a little stoned, which made the whole thing kind of surreal, but we were definitely present in the moment and having lots of fun. It was just an amazing feeling to see all the support and to audibly hear it in those horns honking, which is usually a sound I can't stand. But yesterday, it was a beautiful sound. I guess you could say that since Silver Lake is a pretty progressive neighborhood, it was no surprise that mostly everyone was beeping in support of our cause, but then again, as I've found out all too recently, you can never be too sure about who's on your side. When people who claim to be great friends tell you they are voting to eliminate your rights, it's a bit discouraging. But getting out into the streets and helping to promote the message of equality for all really brought my spirits up.

I had just received my new Flip camera in the mail the day before, so I shot some video of the rally. It's not the greatest, and I come off like a total dork in the video, but oh well, you can check it out below if you want. Don't forget to get out there yourself and vote NO on Prop 8, and do something to ensure that inequality is not a legacy that our children will have to atone for.

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