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Oh, Santa baby, have we been good! Patiently waiting year after year for some kind of recognition that our relationships count, we’ve braved homophobia and backlash, hate crimes and Vatican slander, Dr. Laura and “Reverend” Fred Phelps, military discharges and adoption struggles. But, Santa, this year you came through with two big gifts for us in 2003 — the end of sodomy laws and then, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner with our parents, the hope of legalized marriage in Massachusetts.
Those swell rewards sit snugly in our collective Christmas stockings and burn in our Menorah lights, proudly acknowledging what we knew to be true all along: sex is no crime, and partnerships deserve equal state benefits. But I’d like to sit on Santa’s lap — if, say, Santa were played by Ellen DeGeneres — with just a few more requests for holiday presents. Because frankly, the LGBT community could benefit from a few more political gifts.
Let’s start with youth. Please, Santa, how about safe schools for gay and questioning kids? Make sure that class bullies get coal in their stockings, and that goes the same for teachers who permit or ignore harassment and humiliation. Reward those kids who, gay or straight, dare to stand up and demand equal protection, or who start gay/straight support groups on campus. Reward the PTA parents who risk hate mail and being snubbed at the Safeway because they elected to stand with gay kids. Make sure the girls get to go out for any sport they’d like to play — and that the boys who just hate football get their wish to take drama or design instead. By the way, Santa, did you catch that great drag king performance at Chaos last week, with a skit about the world’s butchest girl never getting the sports gear she wanted from her parents every Christmas? Hint, hint.
And how about a break for gays in the military, Santa? Wouldn’t it be nice to bring everyone home, first of all, and then to tuck copies of Coming Out Under Fire and Serving in Silence into the stockings of those blissful Pentagon idiots who discharged all the Arab language specialists for being gay-in-uniform?
By the way, Santa, my wish list includes some specialty items. How about a nice lesbian dance club in every town that has a bar for gay men but nothing for women? And since most women still earn less than men, something the Bush Administration is “looking into,” Santa, you could reward all those women. Or, if equal pay is too big of a present, then perhaps give every hard-working lesbian an Olivia cruise and a pound of great coffee for winter vacation smiles. And perhaps bailing out all those dynamic women’s bookstores that are struggling to make ends meet?
And don’t forget the Chanukah community. Cross over, Santa, and party with us Jews. Give us wise words and fair policies for bringing peace to both Israel and Palestine. Shine a big flashlight on those valiant LGBT Arabs and Israelis who dare to pair up in twice-forbidden love.
AIDS funding makes a nice gift, both here and abroad. Scattering sleigh-loads of condoms over lands where they’re forbidden or hard to acquire might be a real Christmas present, not just for safe-sex homos but for oft-pregnant wives of randy hetero husbands, too. And any gifts to lesbian health organizations sure would touch some lives — how about the Mautner Project, Santa?
As for me, Santa, I’ve got everything I want. I am truly blessed. A family with four lesbian cousins that supports me, a girlfriend with hands and heart of gold, appreciative students, a writing life, and good health, knock on wood. Sure, I’d like a treehouse — but first, I’d need a yard. Instead, Santa, how about bringing a few final presents to these much-deserving folks?
For the much-attacked, still valiant Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival: peace on their little patch of earth.
For Lambda Rising bookstore: the best season of sales yet.
For Iraq’s queers: their own community center, funded by the United Nations.
For local filmmaker Joan Biren (a.k.a. JE): rapid distribution of her brilliant documentary on the lives of activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, No Secret Anymore.
And for the LGBT students at Georgetown University: their own fully-funded building.
I know I’m asking a lot, Santa. But I’ll balance my long wish list with these New Year’s Resolutions. In 2004, I will be as out as the Dupont Circle air. I will fight homophobia with all my intelligence. I will donate more to gay causes. I will wear gay rights t-shirts to the zoo — and when I’m forced to change planes in Utah, Alabama or South Carolina. I will remind straight colleagues in academia that lesbian scholarship counts.
And I’ll think about what it might mean, for me, to get married.
Bonnie J. Morris, Ph.D., is on the women’s studies faculty at George Washington University and Georgetown University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.