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Bil Browning: Look for That Day to Arrive

Bil Browning,
The Bilerico Project
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June 17, 2008

Sometimes, when you’re in the middle of a long task and the end is nowhere in sight, it feels as if you haven’t accomplished anything. You want to give up — or at least slack off — because there is no feeling of accomplishment. It’s the reason good managers set many small goals instead of one large one; our dedication depends on feeling some sort of achievement.

As California celebrates marriage equality, I’m happy to share that the Bilerico Project is working with LGBT newspapers, magazines and organizations to share this moment in our history with the nation. Several outlets will be filing multimedia and text updates of the first two days of same-sex legal weddings on the blog and all of the pictures will be free for download and use by bloggers, media outlets or for personal use. Consider it our gift to the community on our wedding day.

The amount of multisourcing that will surround this online marriage exhibit is a little queer itself. California and national media outlets will be sharing and storing the photos on a blog based out of Indiana. Our Editorial Team will be watching over the site and making sure everything runs smoothly from our home offices in Indiana, Arizona, Florida, Washington DC, and France.

None of the Ed Team members benefit directly from California’s marriage laws. Sure, we could travel to California and get hitched, but none of the benefits would follow us home. There are plenty of pieces of paper in Indiana and one that says I’m married to another man is worth about as much as a Target circular. Our joy is vicarious.

I must admit to a certain amount of jealousy. LGBT workers can still be fired in Indiana; we don’t even have a hate crimes law. I look longingly at California and consider marrying my partner a pipe dream. I doubt I’ll live long enough to see marriage equality in Indiana.

None of our mayors will be directing city clerks to open early or stay late to accommodate an influx of loving partners. Indiana’s governor, Mitch Daniels, supports a constitutional amendment; conversely, California’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has embraced marriage equality and condemned a proposed amendment. No one will be dancing in the streets of Indianapolis this week for marriage equality as they will in San Francisco or LA.

Instead, Indiana’s queer community danced the weekend before as we celebrated Pride in downtown Indianapolis. This year’s celebration was larger than ever; I can remember years where there was no Pride. Less than 10 years ago, Pride couldn’t fill two blocks of a downtown street. Last weekend over 35,000 people filled a large park. After this year, we’ll probably need a new location for next year’s crowd since the party just keeps growing.

It wasn’t that long ago that Bilerico-Indiana contributor Chris Douglas convinced his employer, Met Life, to be the first major company to have a booth at Indy Pride (other than liquor company sponsors). This year, there were more mainstream companies participating than ever before. While the liquor companies still set the bar high (after the Jagermeister float hotties tossed me a thong and a pleather armband), LGBT employees from Cummins Diesel Engines, Dow-Agra Chemicals, and Eli Lilly all marched in the parade. Resorts, appraisers, banks, cable companies, and politicians all vied for attention at the festival.

When I grew up there were no gay role models. The smalltown library didn’t have any books about LGBT subjects or even any books with sympathetic gay characters. Ellen wasn’t a star and any show called Queer Eye would never have made it air. Gay Pride was for San Francisco and New York City. When we break our march forward down into the little steps that define it, you can easier see how far we’ve progressed.

It was raining tonight as my partner and I drove to dinner. After all of the flooding here, I was complaining about the rain and wishing it would stop. Suddenly he pointed out the window. “Look,” he said. “A rainbow.” Pride in the sky — even in Indiana.

It’s not just that I don’t expect to see same-sex marriage in Indiana, I didn’t expect to see it anywhere. I didn’t expect to see half of the advances we’ve seen in the past few years. The end isn’t in sight yet, but as we break down how far we’ve come we can better appreciate where we’re at.

I’m proud our blog can play a small part in LGBT history. Maybe someday another queer from flyover country can play a role when Indiana finally celebrates our love. I’ve started looking for that day to arrive now.

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