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San Francisco Civic Center, November 5, 2008  |  San Francisco Civic Center, June 12, 2016 (courtesy @SFPDCares)

Towards evening on November 4, 2008, I left headquarters on Market Street in the Castro in San Francisco with my fellow No On Prop 8 campaign volunteers and headed to the election night gathering downtown at the Saint Francis Hotel.  On the trolley car on the way down, a group of kids were staring at us and leering at our “No On Prop 8” shirts and signs, and they began to taunt us.  One of them even had a knife. I felt targeted, threatened, vulnerable, even foolish, but most of all obvious and different.  And when all the votes came in later that night it was confirmed that California voters had passed Prop 8, which banned marriage in California for people like me.

That was a very long and dark night.

But it was nothing compared to the horror endured in Orlando yesterday by hundreds of LGBT friends and allies at The Pulse nightclub, which left 49 dead, 50 injured, their families and friends bereft, and a nation in mourning.

I have had many conversations at SAP yesterday and today, and many have wondered my thoughts on SAP’s participation in the SF Pride Parade. It’s not easy to gather these thoughts and much is still unclear about this atrocity.  The Pulse has been referred to as a sanctuary for LGBT folks – a place they can go to celebrate and be themselves, without fear.  That’s one of the many things that makes this attack particularly devastating. And as the hours and days unfold after Orlando and we learn the names of the dead, we do whatever we can to honor their memories, and join the countless good humans trying somehow to help.

But this much remains clear: We will not go back into the closet. We will still have our sanctuaries. And – yes – we at SAP and beyond will still march in Pride parades all around the world, now more than ever.

Why?

Because the truth is, I didn’t just feel vulnerable in the trolley car going down Market Street in San Francisco the night of Prop 8. We are not only vulnerable in our sanctuaries, in our huge gatherings, and often in our own homes. Despite the many, many gains since then – I am now legally married, my wife and I have a beautiful daughter that lights our lives, I have work at a company that supports us all in being exactly who we are, and everyone in the country can now legally marry the one they love – despite all this, the fact is I still feel vulnerable and different all the time.  But as more of the country grows to feel free to be themselves whoever they are, I know a lot more about what good company I’m in, and I know that our differences are our most precious human traits. It is the hardest, best work ever to celebrate those differences together.

I’m obviously thinking a lot about those post-Prop-8 days since yesterday in Orlando and I truly apologize that the comparison is woefully inadequate and incomplete.  However, just as dawn eventually came after that long night in November 2008, I know that brightness will shine more than ever moving forward on Orlando and a nation, a world, of LGBT people and allies and people of all kinds who are walking together stronger.  This is what defines us: We are vulnerable and we are different and we are human and we take care of one another, but we are far far from alone.  So many good people light our paths.

You can join us. Sign up here to march with SAP in this year’s San Francisco Pride Parade on Sunday, June 26.

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10 Comments

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  1. Tammy Powlas

    Moya,

    I can’t be there in person (because I live on the other side of the country) but please know many of us will be cheering you on and supporting virtually

    As Peg said, I’m proud to know you.  “So many good people light our paths” – including you.

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  2. Lauren Maser

    So proud to know you and stand beside the amazing light that you are, Moya Watson. Thank you for inspiring me each and every day. You, my beautiful friend, are what this world needs more of. Sending you love today and always XOXOX

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  3. Jenny Lundberg

    Thanks for sharing Moya! Wonderful blog. Makes me so angry to hear that it’s not OK to be whom we are and that people can taunt, hurt and even kill people for showing thier own beutiful selfs.

    Diverity makes us stronger!

    I am supporitng the Pride festival and I agree that it’s more important then ever.

    Thanks for speaking up Moya! You are a true rolemodel.

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    1. Moya Watson Post author

      Not only do we feel the support of colleagues and community members — but SAP leaders too.  This means so much. Thank you boss <3

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  4. Marcia Elaine Walker

    Dearest Moya: I was out of the country when you posted this, and while I was able to read it I could not log in to respond. The first thing I thought when I read it was “courage”. Moya has true courage, and it is contagious – the courage you have demonstrated from the moment I first met you has inspired me to be courageous about things that seemed so – scary – to me before, but were NOTHING compared to the threats that marginalized communities (including LGBTQ) face every day.  What I need to say is too long to write in a comment, so I promise you a blog – one that will take much effort to write, as the topic is convoluted and requires much unraveling.  The short version is – courage is what YOU have.  Circumstance is what I have.  Your courage inspires me to use my circumstances to speak up for those that others can’t – or won’t – hear. Thank you for helping me see things I would not see otherwise – you remain a key inspiration in my daily life.

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    1. Moya Watson Post author

      Do I? Countless stories of courage are coming out of that horrendous night, and all I had to do was go to work the next day in a state that fully values my equality.

      The ways I feel vulnerable and different? I honestly don’t undertand why it is any different than people who feel different for whatever other reason at all, and I believe every single human is different.

      But I so value your perspective and you honor me with these words.

      I cannot wait to see your blog.

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