I’ve been thinking a lot lately about freedom. In June I celebrated 2 years clean/sober, though it’s been longer since I drank. That (hopefully) final drunk in December 2010, with the tears and the guards, the rubber room and the mad dash down the hall, IV flying behind me, and the shivering night filled with pleading prayers, was the period I needed to end that chapter of my life. It turned out to be a comma, but anyway, today I have 2 years behind me and onward and upward I go.
I also hit the beach 2 weeks ago, here in Texas, Galveston, for the first time this summer. Walking down the shore, kicking the incoming tide away with my bare feet, while listening to Madonna’s “Cherish” and thinking about that Herb Ritts-shot video, mermen and starfish, and writing notes in the sand to a crush (here’s looking at you, BB). Finally diving into the murky Gulf waters, sans swimsuit…nothing recalls my youth, and therefore my earliest tastes of freedom, more than swimming naked in the ocean, body surfing and walking against the strong undercurrent, during that first beach trip of the summer.
The final week of June also saw two very different examples of freedom: 1 attempt at taking some away and 2 examples of new expressions of freedoms. Living in Texas as a liberal, out, Queer, Christian, sober bon vivant is….well, it’s interesting. Challenging, on many levels, rewarding on many more. Texas gets a bad rap too often and with a Governor like Rick “Hair” Perry, and the Bush’s both hailing from here, it’s no wonder. But, Anne Richards, Molly Ivins and Tom Ford are all from Texas too, so we’re not all evil…anyhoo, I digress.
Our local embarrassment and national joke, Perry, attempted to bum rush a harsh abortion bill through the legislature. 1000s of Texas woman, and their male supporters showed up en masse at the state capital in Austin, to protest and to support state Senator Wendy Davis‘ filibuster against the bill. Davis became an instant Democrat Party Superstar (and rightly so) even though the bill was eventually passed with the heavily Republican Texas House voting in favor of it. Still, seeing the capital light up with women and men of every race, creed, persuasion and color stand up for the freedom of women to choose, was awe-inspiring!
The next day, SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) ruled the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) unconstitutional AND overturned California’s Prop. 8. My Facebook blew up as the news spread; there was a sense of victory and Freedom, jubilation even, as it sank in that “liberty and justice for ALL” in America was closer to being real than ever. More Freedom to marry who you please and have the Government recognize that Freedom. As it was a mere 2 days before Houston’s GLBTQ Pride Festival and night-time parade, the atmosphere in this city was all jubilation and joy, tempered with the distinct notion that, after the Perry debacle, and because Texas Queers could still not marry in our own state, we have a long way to go.
On the occasion of the afore-mentioned Houston GLBTQ Pride celebration, I was sitting at my desk at work, that looks out on the epicenter of said celebration at the corner of Montrose and Westheimer, as a different kind of freedom protesters began to assemble. Carrying signs that read “Homo Sex = Sin” and “Repent Now” I began having a rash of emotions…anger, despair, shame…all coming in waves. I started having mental shouting matches with the sign carriers, and imagined shoving matches with signs pulled down and bloodied faces. Then, I remembered one of the principle my program calls me to live by “Love and Tolerance is our code” and the words of Jay Bakker in his “Faith and Doubt” book that Christ has bestowed Grace upon ALL of us, regardless of our sins, our harms, our lies, our loves or our politics. My Program has taught me to be more free in my thinking, to accept as I wish to be accepted, to be free of judging my insides on others outsides.
So, I began to pray. I prayed for the sign carriers and for everyone attending the festival. For Sen. Wendy Davis & Rick Perry. For the 4 SCOTUS members who voted against my rights and the 5 who affirmed them. And I felt a sense of peace and Freedom that was so much more productive, comforting, than the rage and disgust that had been welling up in me. I realized at that moment, that some of “The Promises” that my Program talks about, namely, “We will know a new Freedom and a new happiness, we will comprehend the word Serenity…” was now a reality and not just a promise. Because before I found myself free from drugs and alcohol, I would never have to thought to pray for my enemies, for those that are praying for my damnation. Even though I have heard “Love thy neighbor as thyself” my whole life, practicing that was always just out of mind and therefore out of reach. Freedom to practice what I preach.
So today, the day after our wonderfully flawed, ambitious and courageous country full of every kind of person from every corner of this globe, celebrated our Freedom from tyranny, Freedom to worship as we see fit and Freedom for “Liberty and justice for all,” I have hope. “Progress not Perfection” is another Principle I adhere to. Since in the last 2 1/2 years I have found Freedoms from addiction, Freedom to choose where I go and who I go there with and finally, Freedom for a new way of looking at and engaging life, itself, I raise the torch to Freedom. Long may we live under the great, Grace-filled light it shines across the darkest corners of this land and in those dark corners of the minds of men and women, everywhere.