He thinks

The reason it is so hard

So damn hard

For gays and lesbians to come out

Is not because of society’s failure to accept us,

But rather,

because of our own consciences

“bearing witness that it is wrong.”

And it’s a little ambiguous whether “it” means

Us, or our relationships

But no matter, I can understand what he’s getting at.

I can even understand, at least as little bit

Why somebody might presume to know

What is weighing on somebody else’s conscience.

But what I cannot even begin to understand

is why he might think

That my conscience would be all tangled up

In guilt over who I love

Love.

When we are surrounded by so much hatred.

And yes, I would be a fool to claim my conscience is clear,

When the world around me is falling all to pieces,

And half the time I am only standing by watching, wide eyed,

Paralyzed with fear.

And so yes, he is right.

My conscience is heavy.

Heavy with guilt over the fact that gay and lesbian youth

Make up a third of teen suicides

And nearly half of those who are homeless.

And out of those 500,000 gay and lesbian youths living on the streets

In our nation alone,

At least 50,000 of them are right here in Los Angeles.

And knowing their pain,

Having felt it myself,

Still, I don’t take the time to fill out the application

To go down and volunteer to actually do something about it.

And yes,

My conscience is consumed with guilt

Over the sins of my country.

Over the wake of dead bodies we have left in Iraq.

Will continue to leave in Iraq.

And yes,

My conscience is consumed with guilt

Over the fact that I have only recently begun to consider the humanity

Of those young men and women

Who probably did head out to Iraq

thinking they were soldiers fighting for freedom

And not for destruction.

And yes, my conscience is heavy

With the weight of the long list of other genocides

That have taken place in my own lifetime,

And about which I have done nothing.

Nothing, other than watch movies that document the devastation

long after the time to act has already passed.

And yes, I am deeply troubled

By the fact that my own city has one of the nation’s widest divides

Between rich and poor,

And still my own anger over this fact

Has yet to move me to action.

And just yesterday,

I saw a homeless man pushing a shopping cart

Full of recycling

That he had to dig from our dumpster

Because my own neighbors and I forget to recycle

While the planet is literally melting around us.

Forget, even, to leave our recyclables

At the side of the dumpster

So this man doesn’t have to climb into our garbage

In order to find a few pennies worth of cans,

When he doesn’t even have a place to rinse off the shit

Once he climbs out.

And I saw him yesterday, and I meant to say thank you.

Thank you and I’m sorry.

I’m so fucking sorry.

But I didn’t say anything other than hello.

Because I was embarrassed.

And so, all of these things,

And all of the other countless ways I have failed to love

As I was so clearly, so concisely

instructed to love,

are part of a long list of things

that weight heavily on my conscience today.

And the list includes all the pain my country has inflicted

On a world struggling to take its dying breaths.

And all the wars, murders, and injustices;

all the rapes of women, children and countries

that I have condoned, and even encouraged

with my silence.

And it includes all the privilege that is afforded me

By my birthplace and my skintone,

And all the excess and waste and hatred

That weaves its way into the fabric of our daily lives

So tightly that we don’t even have to turn our heads away,

Because we don’t even see it anymore

But no,

The consensual, mutual, beautiful

love

that I share

With the woman who shares my home,

My bed,

And my life,

Is not anywhere on that list.

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