Love Exiles on the Marriage Equality Express

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Friday October 8 - Kansas City, St. Louis and Indianapolis

I'm over my jet lag. I did not wake up at 5 am this morning. The alarm went off at a few minute after 5, tried to ignore it, had a waking up chat in the dark with my roommate, Kara, who generously offered me the first shower. I jumped at the chance to immerse in hot water and especially wash my hair. I feel gritty after 10 hours in the bus yesterday.

I'm also a little sleep deprived, but not enough to nap on the bus. It's such an amazing experience that I don't want to doze through any of it.

Last night I was devastated when I heard that wireless Internet at the Kansas City, Kansas, Comfort Inn was out. The staff informed us as soon as we arrived. I don't have a dial-in number for my provider in The Netherlands, so I asked around and found out that Ron, one of the riders, who owns a technology company with his husband Dan (they married in Massachusetts two weeks ago tomorrow), found out at the desk about an internet cafe and planned to head out there in his Westfalia van, which is fully decked out in marriage equality bumper stickers and slogans. Dan and Ron are driving alongside the bus, which turns out to be useful at times like this. Ron tells me he loves driving, and that this vehicle has been to the Arctic Circle and down to Brazil.

Six years ago yesterday was the day that Lin and I decided to take the step from friendship to being lovers. Today, driving through Kansas, we had no mobile phone or internet access for hours on end. It was incredibly frustrating not being able to send or receive email or have a long chat to hear how she is and tell her what we're up to and to acknowledge this day. When the mobile reception returned, I was able to make a quick call to hear her voice and tell her I was OK. It was quick, because Vodafone charges a lot for using a Dutch mobile phone in the middle of Kansas. She promised to call me when we got to our hotel, and I promised to send her the phone number.

Well, it didn't work out that way. We got in late, Internet was down, and Lin woke up at 5 am so she could call me, but could not. Ron and I drove 30 minutes into downtown Kansas City, Missouri, to find an Internet cafe that did not exist. The staff leaving the Starbucks at 11 pm said they'd heard that the Fairmont Hotel had wireless internet in the lobby. We parked the van and headed over in the rain.

In the lounge of the Fairmont, with a large, loud and drunken party going on in the banquet room, we installed ourselves on a couple of velvet chairs in a hallway, purchased the wireless service for $14, and I downloaded my email, sent Lin and email explaining what happened and uploaded two days worth of blogs. Hooray!

Today we had an early start at 6 am, so I got 3.5 hours of sleep. We're heading to St. Louis, where we'll have a lunchtime rally, and then head to Indianapolis for a town meeting at the Jesus Metropolitan Community Church.

I'm punchy tired but decide not to nap. We have some good brainstorming discussions among the immigration equality activists. Nadine tells everyone that her partner from San Diego will be joining us in Indianapolis, and asks everyone to write a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein asking her to support PPIA. It gets us started thinking about what kind of information the senator needs. We make a template to show who we are: our professions, education, community involvement, and that our or partners, to show the senator the talent that is lost or will be lost when we leave the country. We'll send this out to our networks and collect it in time for the meeting on Tuesday. We're engaged and it's fun to work together, we're creating new bonds that will result in action long after the caravan.

St. Louis is great, a big rally, despite the rain. They've BBQed and called out the local community, there's great disco music, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Missouri has passed a referendum about banning same-sex marriage in their constitution, and the activists here are experienced in organizing around this issue. '

It's along ride to Indianapolis. After a box dinner (our first cold dinner of the trip), the bus driver takes us to the MCC church. I'm aware that we're in a conservative area, and it feels different from other places we've been. We watch a film and have a panel discussion afterwards. The local people on the panel are great and I realize what it must take for them to be out. The panelists include a transgender woman, a lesbian couple who demanded and got domestic partner health benefits, an age diverse gay male couple with 5 children from previous marriages, a lawyer with the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, a woman from a local church organization. There is a good sized audience who have come out for the town meeting. What courageous people these are. Imagine being out as a transgender person in Indianapolis.

I'm going to sleep at least 6 hour tonight! Lin gets up at 5 am to call me. I talk to my mom. Being on the bus all day, getting in late and up early, it's hard to talk to people. After talking to my love, I go to bed satisfied.

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