A few weeks back I asked people to post signs on their cars, homes and places of work that said in big letters, "Protect Our Gay Friends, Amend Idaho's Human Rights Act." The word gay was particularly big, maybe 7.5 inches wide by 4 inches tall. You couldn't miss it.
My partner Carol and I put one of these paper signs in the back side window of our car. We are gay people and it would be surprising if anyone living around us had not noticed by now that we are gay. Yet still I guess I was taken aback when one morning after we posted the little paper sign, that someone clearly spit on that window of our car. And if a day or two of the spitting was not enough, I drove to a meeting one night and someone put an obscene little flier on my windshield. I admit some places I started parking lately, I wondered if the car would be safe. I knew we would have to take the sign down to go to my mom's place near Challis.
This is all to say that I do recognize that perhaps I was asking too much. That even I might forget how much anger or hate or cruelty there is in the world, that I would ask people to open themselves up to hate, especially straight allies or gay people in rural areas where there is so little safety, that I would put anyone at risk bothers me.
I figure I have grown isolated living in the north end. But if I am isolated to what happens, my legislative colleagues are far more so. They might not see the gleeful cruelty or seething in Bryan Fischers web posts and missives. They might not have visited the web sites where people talk about me as a gay person and about guns in threatening ways. They might not have read the recent email to me saying I should leave Boise because there are people who moved here from places like California to get away from gay people like me. The email was a bit more harsh in its language. I won't quote it.
In essence I reel with trying to comprehend how many of my colleagues do not believe discrimination happens while all around them it does and I only wish they would put one of those big gay signs on their cars and see what happens.
But I don't want to ask that. I don't want to ask that of anyone. So I found better signs. They say "Human Rights for ALL: Amend Idaho's Human RIghts Act." I don't think they will put anyone at risk. As a nation we do believe in Human Rights. As a state the vast majority know people need them. I feel better asking people to post these signs. I think more people will. I know I was asking too much with the other ones.
It was like with talking to one of my colleagues about how best to go about passing the changes to the Human Rights Act we need in order to protect gay people. He said we needed to find a way to do it so that we don't have to say gay, or sexual orientation or gender identity. I'm thinking it is a bit hard to write a law that won't mention the people it is supposed to protect. There is a lot of room for misinterpretation there. If anyone has ideas I'll take them.
Short of that, it is just going to have to become a bit more safe to say the word gay. A lot more people are going to have to say the word (kindly) or wear those signs that say gay someday. Straight people too, until it gets more safe and normal for all of us to see people be OK with the word gay. For the word gay to be boring would be ideal. For now I have the signs that say "Human Rights for ALL" and don't say gay in big letters. Because we are not there yet.
You can get a sign to print for your car or house. While the words don't have the force of law, with time they can show more people care, ordinary people everywhere around Idaho. That's what matters. And I feel pretty sure that, even without the word gay, people will know what we mean.