I’m Actually Feeling Hopeful

Maybe the Prozac is kicking in. Of course, it can’t hurt that my presidential candidate of choice, Barack Obama, was elected. But it was also exciting and reassuring to see the enthusiasm among my Walnut Creek neighbors about Obama and about defeating Proposition 8, as evidenced by the “Obama/Biden” and “No on 8” signs I saw posted in front of homes throughout my neighborhood.
Okay, the bigots won on their effort to ban same-sex marriage in California. At least for now. Proposition 8 passed by about 4 percent in the state. Same-sex marriages will not be recognized in the state of California, and a certain segment of people in my community (neighbors, co-workers) are being denied their inequal rights. That’s terrible news.
Still, I am able to find a silver lining in looking at voting patterns among my fellow citizens, here in communities east of San Francisco. With regard to Proposition 8, 55 percent of voters in my county, Contra Costa, where I live, said “no” to 8. So, it is reassuring to find that I live among mostly rational people who recognize that allowing two people who love each other to marry, regardless of gender, is the decent and righteous thing to do. I grew up in this county, and back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, when I was in high school, my gay friends felt they needed to stay closeted. One even went to a psychiatrist, who assured him that he could help “straighten” him out.

Nowadays, many high school campuses in the surrounding suburbs have diversity clubs and Gay-Straight Alliances. In fact, at my alma mater, Acalanes High School in Lafayette, next door to Walnut Creek, the Gay-Straight Alliance is supposedly one of the most popular clubs on campus. Not all members are gay or out, the faculty advisor told me. Many are just conscientious advocates of tolerance.
It’s popular among people of my generation or older Baby Boomers to bash teen-agers and 20somethings for not being civic minded, like we supposedly were. I’d say the opposite is true. I’ve met a great many teens and 20somethings who are thoughtful and socially responsible—and who certainly have their values and all their other shit together much more than I did at that age.

Meanwhile, 67 percent of voters in my county said “yes” to Barack Obama as president. Sure, that’s not surprising, given that we live in the liberal “socialist” San Francisco Bay Area.
In all, despite the Yes on 8 victory, and despite the GEC (Global Economic Crisis), TNU (The New Uncertainty), and overall tough times we’re living in, I’m actually feeling optimistic. Americans voted for, we all hope, a new positive direction for our country, and I live in a community of thoughtful, decent young people and neighbors.

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