Journey of an Ally ~ Outside the Margins with Diana Copland

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Diana Copland OtM

Journey of an Ally

I don’t usually get out of bed at 6:45.  I used to have to, and now that I don’t… well, I don’t.  But on Friday June 26, 2015, something told me to get out of bed.  I turned on the television, and at 7:02 a.m. pacific time, I started to cry.

They were good tears, happy tears.  I’d never believed I’d see marriage equality in my lifetime, so there was a certain amount of disbelief mixed in there.  But joy, so much joy.  And some sorrow, too.

I’ve been an ally in the fight for equal recognition under the law for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people for a long time.  I think it probably started when I was eighteen, and a friend of mine, a beautiful young man named Dennis I’d toured with in a musical theatre company, killed himself.  He’d come out to his parents, and their response was to throw the bible at him.  Instead of taking their way, ignoring who he was and pretending to be what they were, he hung himself in their garage. I will never forget how stunned we all were, or the lost, broken look in his boyfriend’s eyes. That was in 1976.

In 1981, I married a wonderful bi-sexual man.  He never pretended to be something he wasn’t, and I didn’t care.  He was warm and kind and funny, and I loved him.  Pretending I couldn’t understand what he saw, what he found attractive, in another man would have been pretty damned hypocritical.  We even laughed when we checked out the same men.

We hadn’t been married very long when our friends began to get sick.  I watched so many of them die; the man who sang at our wedding, my choreographer, my dance partner.  One of the florists who’d done our wedding flowers.  The list is long and remembering them makes me sad, but the response of my government to what could accurately be called an epidemic was to do NOTHING. Reagan never even said AIDS. Bush One was just as bad.  People were dying, and my government didn’t do a single damned thing. It was terrifying, and infuriating. In 1988 the wonderful man I married was diagnosed with HIV along with thousands of others, and still our government did nothing.

Finally, FINALLY, in 1992 a candidate for president said the word; AIDS.  I think that was when my true activism was born.  After twelve years of leaders who were content to sit back and watch people die, here was one who wasn’t going to ignore a disease that was killing my friends, and my husband.  I worked my butt off to get him elected, and I don’t regret it.  Was he perfect?  No.  But did the search for a cure grow by leaps and bounds during his presidency?  God, yes.  It was too late for so many of my friends, and for my husband, who we lost in 1995, but we were further down the road to a cocktail that could keep people healthy, if not a cure.

I would have had to be blind during all of those years not to see the way my friends were treated.  Being gay might not have been illegal anymore, but it was often dangerous for them to admit it out loud.  I will never forget Harvey Milk, or Matthew Shepard.  Or the friend I loved who ended up in an ER with his jaw broken, his teeth pushed clear through his top lip he’d been hit so hard, because he dared to walk down a public street arm in arm with his boyfriend. I was his emergency contact, and I was there before they put him back together. This beautiful man, so beautiful he’d been cast as Prince Charming at Disneyland, was bleeding wreckage. The image of him, his lip torn and his face a roadmap of bruises, will stay with me forever.

I know there are members of my family who think I’m weird as hell.  And there are others who think I only have one issue I care about.  I’ve been told I have a litmus test for my candidates, that I’m a one issue voter.  And I guess to some, it might seem that way.  It isn’t true; I care about a lot of things.  I care about gun violence, and see no reason for an AK47, or whatever the latest version of it is, to be in the hands of private citizens. I care about global warming.  I care about education.  I care, passionately, about funding for Alzheimer’s research. I care about the disparity between the very rich and the shrinking middle class. I care about freedom FROM religion as much as I care about freedom of religion. And I care about my kids and their kids inheriting a better country, a better world than I and my generation did, and I hope our politicians won’t screw it up so badly they can’t fix it.  But primarily, and yes, most importantly to me, I care about all of my country’s citizens being treated equally.  And the idea, the very thought, that anyone would deny those rights to someone because of who they LOVE is not something I can just ignore. I can’t.  I won’t.  Marriage equality is a huge step, an important one, but LGBT people can still be fired for who they love in too many states for me to think this battle is over.

So, yeah.  I have one issue that is more important to me than any of the others.  Discrimination against LGBT people hits me where I live, where I’ve lived for a long time. It’s discrimination against my husband, and people I love. Friday was amazing, an awesome beginning towards my gay friends being treated as equal citizens under the law, and it made me happier than I can say. When the gay couple who has been together for 54 years got married in Texas, and the judge said “by the power invested in me by the Constitution of the United States”, I flat lost it.  I cried, again, for what had to be like the fiftieth time that day.

I just wish it had come sooner.  I would have loved to dance at Dennis’s wedding.

~Diana Copland

About Diana Copland

Diana Copland began writing in the seventh grade, when she shamelessly combined elements of Jane Eyre and Dark Shadowsto produce an overwrought Gothic tale that earned her an A- in creative writing, thanks entirely to the generosity of her teacher. She wrote for pure enjoyment for the next three decades before discovering LiveJournal and a wonderful group of supportive fanfiction writers, who after gifting her with a “”Best New Author”” Award encouraged her to try her hand at original gay fiction.

Born and raised in southern California, Diana moved to the Pacific Northwest after losing a beloved spouse to AIDS in 1995. She lives in eastern Washington with four obnoxious cats, near her two wonderful adult children.
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Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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