Two weeks ago, this community come together for the ultimate Hell To Pay fundraiser against Prop 8. By the time I wrote this diary, it seemed out of date. It's time to post it now.
The most recent polling shows that Prop 8 failing 49% to 44%. With 7% undecided and equality literally hanging in the balance, we need to re-open this Hell To Pay campaign. I need to be a part of this. And I need you to join me.
One last night. Leave it all on the road.
From October 19, 2008:
I’m 26, gay, and from Salt Lake City, Utah. I just got off the phone with my mom back home in Utah. Tonight, she will be making her first political donation online – as part of the Hell To Pay fundraiser for No To Prop 8.
I can barely sign on to the homepage right now without crying.
These days, I’ve been feeling the constant shame knowing how much money and manpower the Mormon Church has poured into this effort. To say the fight over Prop 8 is personal is one hell of an understatement.
I need to apologize – to every couple in California whose marriages hang in the balance; to every closeted gay kid in Utah who are even more terrified than before – on behalf of Utah itself. It rips me up that my heritage has suddenly turned so dark – but the DailyKos community has found a way to transform my pain and rage into an almost overwhelming sense of hope.
I’ve never been more proud of my mother than I am tonight. She is 62 and she and my dad have lived in Salt Lake City since the late 1970s. I’m their only child and even though we’ve always been close and they’ve always been supportive, at times it’s been incredibly hard for them to come to terms with the fact that their son is gay.
To be honest, I think it’s been harder on my mom. She’s starting to look forward to grandchildren – but no longer knows exactly what that dream looks like for our family. (Don’t worry, mom... Babies are totally part of the plan – I promise!)
Both my parents are lifelong Democrats, but in Utah that doesn’t often translate into political activism. My mom is very active at the Presbyterian Church they’ve belonged to my entire life. I never quite know what to expect with her. She enjoyed the Left Behind novels, but hated The Passion of the Christ because it left out the "actual message of Jesus’ life and resurrection. Mourning is only part of the story – it’s the humanity and goodness at its core that really matters."
Initially, her faith was part of what made coming out so hard for me. I didn’t know how she’d react and I didn’t want to be responsible for her doubting either her beliefs or me. I was amazed by her generosity and her questions, and over time it seems she has come to see equality as a fundamentally spiritual issue. Under a loving God, how else could it possibly be?
So how dare they! How dare they take on a fight AGAINST equality – and do so in the name of faith and religion and marriage and values. How dare they defile the love I hope to one day celebrate at my own wedding. How dare they twist my mother’s spirituality into something hurtful.
I envy my mom’s faith sometimes – I wish I could be so sure of things. Which brings me to DailyKos. This weekend you have made me sure again. Sure of the goodness of humanity and the great potential of America.
The first Hell To Pay fundraiser seemed like an awesome idea. The righteous political geek in me loved the idea, and like many of you I was blown away by the response. As the weeks have gone on, I find myself mentioning it more and more to friends and coworkers. John McCain was right about one thing: There is a special place in hell for those who knowingly use hate for political gain. Over the past few Saturdays, I have been blown away by the tenacity of this community. Financial generosity is only the beginning. The existence of these funding drives has given me so much hope.
I was scared when I saw No On Prop 8 on this week’s list of nominations. I knew it would end up as the winner, and I knew that would make me finally confront what I’ve been so studiously ignoring these past few weeks: my own sense of responsibility – as a Utahn – for this hateful mess.
I spent the weekend in New York with a few friends from high school, and they seem to be feeling the same way. We’re used to the Mormon questions, to being experts on a sometimes strange cultural land, to having to explain the realities facing women and gays and minorities in the place we all call home. But Prop 8 – and the knowledge that it’s potential success is being driven by so much Utah money and effort and passion makes me physically nauseous. I was shocked when my friend Mary mentioned similar feelings.
"Why us?" she asked. "Why is THIS what people have to see of Utah. And are we so powerless to stop it?"
As we discussed this last night in a bar in the East Village, I pulled up DailyKos on my iPhone and started reading the update form BarbInMD. As I kept reading, I started choking up – for the first time not because I felt lost, but because I was proud. Over $55,000 had already been raised. Steve Bing was matching everything, dollar for dollar. I read Kos’s story about Martin. And I knew it was time to do something.
I remember all too clearly the day I heard that Canada had legalized gay marriage and I realized in an instant that I had never let myself dream or even hope for such a thing in my own country. It was like the world shifted out from under me and I could breathe for the first time and it was too good to be true.
I believe that I will see marriage legalized throughout the United States in my lifetime – just not yet. It’s almost unbelievable to be typing those words, to be honest. But as we fight until we reach that day, I am equally aware that there will be moments of reckoning. This is one of them. My children – those grandkids my mom can’t wait to meet – will ask us how such things could happen, how times could ever have been so dark. And whether we win or lose the fight against Proposition 8 in California, they will ask me what I did to stop it.
My answer cannot be "nothing."
This weekend’s Hell To Pay fundraiser for No On Prop 8 is one of the most remarkable things I have ever witnessed in my life. I can’t stop thinking about it – or telling people about it. And now it’s my turn.
Like I said, I’m 26. I work at a small nonprofit in Washington, DC. I’m putting myself through grad school. I live comfortably, but it’s pretty much paycheck to paycheck. This is my final semester of grad school and therefore the last time I get a bit of extra loan money for living expenses. It’s been budgeted to finally pay off the last of my credit card debt, for a plane ticket to attend a childhood friend’s wedding in New Zealand, and for a pair of awesome new jeans. But I keep coming back to the idea that I need to put a big chunk of it – more than I can afford, probably – towards No On Pop 8. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the paperwork and we’re in the middle of midterms and my loans still haven’t cleared. If they had, this fundraiser – and Bing’s matching challenge – would have been the final straw for me to pull the trigger.
As it is, I just donated $200 online, and if I overdraft my account who fucking cares. It’s happened before to pay utilities or for theatre tickets. I’ll be fine. This is too important.
So I called my mom to tell her about Hell To Pay, about the amazing act of defiance and faith that is taking place here this weekend. I choked up almost immediately. She too was in awe. And then I asked her to give. I’ve never done this before and she was quiet for a moment and asked me how much I was donating. My answer took her a little by surprise, but I told her again why I felt this is so important. I told her why it mattered to me and to our family, and I told her I felt like it was my duty as a Utahn and an American to take a small stand against the injustice being perpetuated by so many people from home.
Tonight, my mom – the woman who raised me in Salt Lake City – will be making her first political donation online. All because of you.
I’m so unbelievable proud and humbled and grateful and giddy that I got back online and donated another $20 – this time in honor of my mom.
And I would ask that you join me. Proposition 8 has been a dishonorable undertaking from the start, so let’s fight back with honor. Let’s honor those we love and those who inspire us.
So I’m issuing my first challenge to this community, though I don’t know how many people will read this at all. As Hell To Pay draws to a close, make one more donation.
Even if it’s just $20, make a donation in honor of your parents, or your partner, or your children. Give $10 for your gay best friend. Give $10 in honor of the teacher who first challenged the course of your life. Give $10 for the people in California working day and night to make Prop 8 another story of progressive victory – show them that we have their backs. And then, please, use the comments on this diary to dedicate your donation to them.
Hell, join me and just give $10 in honor of my mom. (She’s big into thank you notes, so I’m sure she’d end up joining DailyKos just to say thanks!)
This year we are all fighting so hard on so many levels, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the reasons we each hope for a better future. So take a moment to honor those who inspire us all. Give whatever you can afford - and let’s make sure that there really is hell to pay in California on November 4.
This community – and Hell To Pay this weekend – has inspired me more than I know how to express. This gay boy from Utah can’t possibly thank you enough.