"Quanta...like spit in the dust of a baseball field" - Cody

November 18, 2003

One hour, four minutes, and three seconds of political activism

My internship at Emeryville started back up today. It was like September all over again or like unpausing the movie Heat in the middle of the shout-out scene. After a brief hiatus helping put together a conference for people with budgets who believe in good causes, I was back at the affordable housing engine of the east bay.

I have a transfer-heavy commute. Muni to BART to Emery-Go-Round and vice versa. On the return trip today, I surfaced at Castro St. Station knowing that there would be a "Q4M" (i.e. Queers for Matt Gonzalez, secretly "The Lavender Greens") rally.

Surprise! The Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized gay marriage! (or almost legalized it, don't ask me, ask one of the many cementwhores (TM) fluent in legalese around here.)

So I grab a sign, "We all deserve the right to marry," meet up with a fellow lavender green (lavender green organizations are the queer arms of the green party), wave my sign in the air, and drool over the cute activist boys attending the rally with their dogs and boyfriends.

There is much talk of equal rights through a bullhorn. A 15-year old girl in a plaid Catholic-girl skirt says something about how, "I want both of my Moms," to have the rights that every straight couple has. Representatives from Equality California and other gay marriage rights organizations have their say. One of them yells, "Now we have the right to have sex and get married, but only in Massachussetts."

The rally breaks up and now the signs need to be moved to the LGTBQIQ Center down Market Street. I grab some gay marriage signs and some Matt Gonzalez for Mayor signs and head on down. But I lose most of my fellow activist. So there I was carrying about ten signs looking uncelebratory and a bit unmanned.

Not to worry though, my energies and spirit were recharged as I passed Safeway and the labor activists who were picketing there. I quickly joined their crew, and chanted, "What do we want? HEALTH CARE. When do we want it? NOW." They welcomed both my Matt Gonzalez for Mayor and my gay rights signs to come play with their labor signs. It was a true meeting of the signs. (omg, i am so sorry i wrote that.)

But I had to catch up the Q4M crew. They were probably missing their signs. As I walked down the hill from Safeway a homeless man hit me up for some change. As a representative for the people who opposed Care Not Cash, I felt that I had to scrounge in my pocket to give the guy some loot. Unluckily, I fished out 60 Australian cents and about the same in U.S. currency. He was a disappointed when I only parted with the U.S. minted coins. As I left him to his mumblings about fishing and paperwork, I felt like I should have done more for him. I also felt a bit ashamed that the other gay rights activists passed him by without acknowledging his share of human misery. The guy had a staple in his forehead. He needs care and cash.

When I got to the Center there was a celebration in progress, but I was hungry and I wasn't sure how I would make myself dinner if I couldn't buy ingredients at Safeway, so I dropped off the signs and started walking home.

As many of you know, Duboce St. is closed to cars for the block where the N- and J-line Muni trains come aboveground. In the past few years this block was engineered into a pedestrian and bicycle path. Even more recently it has been socially engineered by representatives of San Francisco's down-and-out and rough&tumble crowd into a gathering place, substance market, and traffic calming installation, at little or no cost to city taxpayers.

As I walked through the clusters of people who might have sneered at my slacks and buttoned down shirt if they had looked closely, I couldn't help but feel that my Gonzalez for Mayor window sign was a kind of badge that let them know that I was off limits to harrassment.

Now I am home. I put the window sign in the window. And I'm heating up frozen ravioli that may or may not have been purchased a long time ago in a Safeway far far away.

Posted by cbsisco at November 18, 2003 07:48 PM

Is Care Not Cash a real slogan? I hope not, because it could single-handedly validate every stingy person out there.

Posted by: robyn at November 18, 2003 11:40 PM

cody, thank you for using the TM sign. I feel so validated that I hereby relinquish all my rights to the phrase "cement whores." because I believe music, and phrases, should be free. and whales, also.

p.s. good work on the activating.

Posted by: didofoot at November 19, 2003 11:14 AM

Care Not Cash is a real slogan. There were accompanying billboards a while ago... people in suits holding cardboard signs about how they want to be able to walk past alleys without being asked for money, and so on. Bleah.

Posted by: dianna at November 19, 2003 11:46 AM

well seriously, don't you hate when those lovely alley mouths are cluttered with the inconvenient homeless? an alley should be clean and fresh, like springtime.

Posted by: didofoot at November 19, 2003 12:28 PM