Friday, June 13, 2014

Gray Sweats

Many years ago, as I age I lose the capacity to place things in time so am left with only the choice between 'many' and 'a few' - in this case 'many' is really apt, Joe and I campaigned for George Hislop when he ran for city council. George had a high profile as an outspoken advocate for gay rights and was considered by many as one of the leaders of the gay community. He also had a passionate love for the city and knew it well. He served on important committees and was often consulted for his point of view on various issues.

Knocking on doors was part of the job, one that makes everyone pretty nervous, but we did it diligently. Those who answered broke down into thre categories: those that called him and us 'F*ggots' and slammed the door; those that would glance out and see that we were political campaigners and slam the door; those that would talk with us. In that third category were gay people who would talk about George and their hopes for his election. That third category also held others who were disenfranchised, others who understood why this was important to us and what George's election, should he win, would mean to us.

One of those people was a man with a disability who answered the door sitting in his wheelchair. He was dressed in gray sweats and had a sardonic smile. He put us through our paces by asking some questions about policy - we were thankful to have paid attention in our training and were able to easily answer him.

At the end he said, "Yeah, I'm voting for George."

He said it so casually, almost like he knew our candidate, so I asked, "Do you know him."

"No," he said, "I don't. But I know prejudice and discrimination, my vote can do something about that, so I'm voting for George."

George did not win that election. But his standing and his credible showing indicated that it was possible for someone identified with the lgbt community could run and could win.

I thought of that fellow, in that wheelchair, last night watching the MPP in my area, an openly gay man, win, and seeing Ontario elect an openly lesbian woman, win.

To be fair, no one throughout the election made Premier Wynn's sexuality an issue at all. It wasn't spoken of by pundits, or mentioned during the coverage last night. It was almost like a non issue.

And why?

Because people like George ran in a time where the police asked him to wear a bullet proof vest when he spoke - George never did.

Because there were people who understood that a vote could do something about prejudice and discrimination.

To that guy in the wheelchair and the gray sweats - thanks - You find family everywhere.


Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I think that is one of the most remarkable things about Kathleen Wynne's election. Her sexual orientation was a non issue. Her policies, her integrity - those are the things that got her elected. It gives a person hope!


FunMumX3 said...

Thrilled about Kathleen Wynn and that her success was based on her platform not her sexual orientation. I didn't vote (not a citizen) but very pleased at the outcome. Imagine if she had been running in the US... would have been flame throwing from beginning to end.

PS Want to read a simply marvellous novel on politics and people? The High Road by Terry Fallis. A MUST READ. If you read it you will see why I used the words flame throwing above :)