Me and Harvey: my adventures at the Harvey Milk Festival (HMF), 2.

Felice's Andrew – his smile can light up that room!

The HMF is a chance to get all of us – gay, straight and everything in between – into one space. Here we toasted Harvey, our movement, our progress and our targets. A celebration based in sobering reality. In the States, we’ve just gotten hate crime protections under federal law. We can still, any day, be fired from our jobs for being gay. A bill to end employment discrimination and job protection, ENDA (Employee Non-Discrimination Act), waits for “the right time” in Congress. Still. UAFA, the Uniting American Families Act, introduced ten years ago by Jerrold Nadler as PPIA (Permanent Partners Immigration Act) garners plenty of sponsors each congressional session but never makes it that last leg into law. Boy, do the States have a lot to gain from their northern neighbors when it comes to the gays.

And, don’t say you got it from me, but whose economy is thriving and whose is diving? Wait til you hear the connections Mayor Kelly Kirchner makes about economic prosperity and the gays. I’m just sayin’.
We’re waiting for ‘the right time’ for positive legislative moves while our soldiers and our families are attacked under DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell), Proposition 8 and increasingly harsh anti-gay adoption laws such as was recently implemented here in Florida and rescinded in Arkansas. Not to mention the roll-back in funding for anti-HIV drugs or the all-out assault upon queer teens such as Mississippi’s Constance McMillan.

Brave lady, don't take no stuff

Wait ‘til some brilliant queer studies the economic and social effects of the recent Arizona anti-immigrant and racist legislation – and spells it all out (again) for us. One step forward, three steps back. My Zimbabwean partner used to ask why we pass such amazing civil rights laws in the U.S. but that they are never stable. Whether it’s artistic expression or choosing who you want to bonk, it’s all fodder for the political football game.
I’ve had enough. I am, and my family is, not a political for  AnitaAnita Bryant, for “Rev.” Phelps, for Newt Gingrich, for George Bush, for Bill Clinton, for Arnold Shwarzenegger, for Glen Beck, for Bill O’Reilly or Bag o’ Bones Coulter. Or Sarah Palin. Eff off. At the HMF, we stood up and said we’re here, we’re visible; we won’t hide. And, we’re not going to justify our right to human rights.  If you don’t know, Hannah Arendt explains it all for you. Bring it on. There is no ‘right time’ and there is nothing “more important”.
The interview I mentioned in Part 1, was personal, moving and inspiring. I’d never met Shannon & Jen but knew as we giggled amongst ourselves during the interview that I was with friends and comrades: smart, informed, motivated.

After the interview, I followed Jen down to Central Ave. where the v’teers were gathering for final plans and finishing touches. I don’t remember all of their names (my bad) but the first of many arms to open wide were Claire’s, the HMF Webmistress and All-Around Good Egg. Kid-faced, freckled, CHiPs shades, one long blond strand of hair in a darker landscape, she told me all I needed to know about who’s doing what, where to go, who to see, etc. V’teers don’t come out if they don’t care. Time and creativity are precious commodities and v’teers have these to offer. Next a blond dynamo, the V’teer Coordinator, Eric. Jake, the dishy, bearded DJ; Ren who I’d seen on The Drifts’ FB page. All big welcoming smiles but dead serious about making Saturday’s fest a blowout. Nobody looked nervous. Maybe they’d all spent time training with deep breath exercises. With the calm and focus of this team, there’s not much they couldn’t pull off.

Ending my Thursday, I ducked out about then, dog-tired; and tucked into my hotel room.

Friday was spent writing, running and seeing my lovely in-laws: Iran, Enayat (Vajdon’s parents); Vahid, Karla (V’s brother and our sister-in-law) and the kids, Anders & Kellan. Anders is a smart, smart eighth grader and Kellan is a born writer who knows everything there is to know about James Bond and almost everything about old movies. Yes, the black & white ones too.

Finishing my meat loaf, I hurried back to the HMF area where the fest’s art gallery was opening. Met a few people, bit our lips about what was coming the next day, sipped a cocktail and again ducked out for an earlyish night.

Next up…the big day, Mitch & Steve, the candlelight vigil boogie, tears and A Tale of Two Cities.

~ by Thom on May 26, 2010.

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