Sara Whitman

I Am An American

Filed By Sara Whitman | December 09, 2008 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: lesbian, LGBT, LGBT civil rights, LGBT families

I have spent much of my life as a victim. As a lesbian, as a woman, I have been a victim of hate, of violence, of job discrimination.

I'm done. I don't want to be the other. I don't want to be on one side while the rest of the world, divided by what often feels like an arbitrary line, sits on the other.

I am an American. I am responsible for three kids, my wife- my family. I love them and it is my job to take good care of them- the best care of them I possibly can. I pay taxes and a mortgage. In order to do that, I need to be an excellent employee, work hard, put in my best effort.

I am motivated by being a good role model for my children. I need to support them emotionally, and provide the best education possible. My marriage, more than just our community wrapped around our relationship, keeps us intact. It provides laws to do so, too.

Marriage is good for society. It keeps families whole and provides safety nets- especially for children. It has for a long time. It will continue to for a long time.

I'm not looking for any special treatment- except on my birthday, when I love my kids waking me up at the crack of dawn to provide me a "leisurely" breakfast in bed. I don't except to pay less for gas, or to have a special line to get past airport security faster than anyone else.

Most of all, I don't want pity. I am stronger than most people. I can haul wood or groceries or laundry endless distances. I can stay up all night and rub a sick child's back until they can fall back asleep again. I can cook dinner for my family every night or for 50 people on Superbowl Sunday.

I can hold unbearable past experiences and still breathe in the joy of my life today.

I am a good friend. I care deeply about my neighbors, my community, my country. I donate my time, my money to help better the world.

I am not on the other side. I am not a tiny piece of a small fragment in this country.

Don't ever feel sorry for me.

Let me have the full responsibility of being an American. Because we deserve an American workforce free of discrimination, we deserve the strongest military in the world and every child in this country deserves a family.

I am an asset to this society. Let us all erase the lines of Us and Them. Think of what we can do if we do it together.

I want excellence. Don't we all?


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Yes! Brilliant! I love this! This is exactly how I have always thought we should be talking. It is fruitless and, in many ways, works against us to play the victim card or some sort of "we are special" card. If the point is equality and unity, that should be our voice.

Thank you, Sara. This is the best statement for equality I have ever seen.

Shout it loud ... Sing it proud, Sara!

Ha, it looks like someone has been listening to Tim McFeeley too much.

Let us all erase the lines of Us and Them.

How can you make that statement without choking on the irony? The rest of this nationalist rhetoric of "I Am An American" does nothing but cut a deep and jagged line between you and 95% of the people on this planet.

If your claim to healthcare, housing, education, respect, safety - a life free of violence for you and your children - is rooted in American citizenship, what does that mean for everyone else?

On the other hand, now this I'll take: "I can hold unbearable past experiences and still breathe in the joy of my life today."

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | December 9, 2008 7:40 PM

If your claim to healthcare, housing, education, respect, safety - a life free of violence for you and your children - is rooted in American citizenship, what does that mean for everyone else?

Nick, I agree!

Personally, I was brought up short by we deserve the strongest military in the world. Not sure what this has to do with marriage. Is it a reference to DADT?

As much as I view same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue, given our current societal system, I also strongly believe that a more desireable outcome would be to disengage healthcare, citizenship, prosperity, social justice, and other issues from the institution of marriage. My ideal society would be one in which children raised by single parents, LGBT or straight, have access to excellent housing, childcare, education, healthcare and other basic goods and services. To me, this is preferable to the world we seem to be moving toward, in which access to those basic goods and services is increasingly based on ability to pay, where one lives, and where one happens to have been born.

I find myself increasingly disturbed and alienated by the direction the marriage movement is taking. In designating marriage as the end all and be all, are we losing sight of radical progressive values and aims?

Brynn,

Marry me. Now.
Now, Brynn. Now. Nick, I'd love to have you be part of the marriage, too!
You realise, of course, the import of my statement.

I'm in love. Who knew this could happen on the pages of bilerico?

And I can think of lots of US citizens who cringe at the thought of ours being the "strongest military in the world." Like the tens of thousands who've marched against all the wars waged by the U.S. in the last decade alone.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | December 10, 2008 12:08 AM

Like the tens of thousands who've marched against all the wars waged by the U.S. in the last decade alone.

Yes! Here in the US and worldwide. Taken together, it would be millions of people.

And while I'm flattered at the proposal ;-) I'm increasingly feeling that getting married is the LAST thing I want to do in this political climate.

Have you seen Gay Shame's manifesto against marriage? It's great.

The rest of this nationalist rhetoric of "I Am An American" does nothing but cut a deep and jagged line between you and 95% of the people on this planet.
But Nick, she is writing about civil rights, the rights of being an American, whether a citizen or not. I think her tack is something most people in our country can relate to, even if they don't side with us.

Sure, she could have cast her statement for the whole world, but its Americans who will be voting on our rights in future elections. I think her approach is right and her article worth emailing.

this isn't about the marriage movement.

this is about not being a victim.

yes, we need healthcare, jobs, housing... everyone does.

I find it interesting on my site, that this appeals greatly to straight people.

who exactly are we trying to rally? do I have to convince you that rights for all is a good idea?

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | December 9, 2008 8:37 PM

do I have to convince you that rights for all is a good idea?

Sara, I think the way you've written this and the current context--day before "calling in gay" to protest the Prop 8 vote--one could be excused for thinking the post was motivated primarily by the fight for same-sex marriage. But I apologize for misunderstanding.

On the other hand, when you include sentences like, I am an American, marriage is good for society, and we deserve the strongest military in the world you're not advocating for equal rights for all. You're making distinctions between American citizens and others, married parents and single parents. The reference to a strong American military, in particular, is not something many foreign nationals would read neutrally.

I don't think that I am at all, Brynn.

I'm not writing to foreign nations. although I have a few foreign readers who seems to like the overall message.

but we can disagree and still work together. like I said, this piece isn't for you- you get it.

it's for the mushy middle.

Sara, what you have written speaks my own heart. Almost my entire life I have considered myself a patriot yet at odds with my country.

As a lifelong Pagan I spent most of my life having to hide my beliefs just in order to stay employed. As someone who spent part of her childhood overseas, I learned early and first hand that the promise of America and the reality seldom mesh. I fought for civil rights, against the Vietnam war and for women's rights in the sixties and early seventies, I became an official "enemy of the state" for my troubles. In the seventies I stood up for the rights of Pagans to openly practice our traditions at a time when "Occult squads" were an open part of many police forces.

I never wanted more than the America I was taught we had in school back in the fifties and sixties..we still are far from it.

You go girl! I'm with you.

I just want to know if this means you want me to give up my little blue mirror hanger for the "GAY" parking space. It was the only perk!

I share some of the concerns of other people in the comments, and I can see how this would be very appealing to straight people.

I'm wondering how much we have to divorce ourselves from our politics. The "strongest military in the world" is a good example. It's hard not to read that as an endorsement of the estimated one million people killed in Iraq and the other millions of people killed in exceptionalist US power/resource/land grabs.

I know, even saying that one disagrees with a US war means that that person is a dirty fucking hippie, a fringe element who shouldn't even be listened to, but is there ground on which we can advocate for equal treatment of LGBT and straight soldiers and not support US imperialism? Are we strong enough to keep our political viewpoints and still demand equality or are we merely victims of circumstance who have to find the easiest way to sell what we want?

Ethan Pleshe | December 14, 2008 1:44 PM

Sara,

I am proud to be part of the same community as you. In my opinion you really understand what it means to be an American. Thank you for just being you.

-Ethan