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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

When Assuming Makes an Ass Out of You and Me

Proposition 8 protests. She was thinking about going to the “Join the Impact” protest in San Francisco; I couldn’t go because I have an interview. As she sat with a sad look in her eyes, Why don’t you ever want to go to these things?, she began thinking about whether protesting in San Francisco really made sense.

“I mean, it’s San Francisco,” she said, clicking away at her Mac. “I should be protesting in Hayward or something....Walnut Creek….”

“Yeah,” I said. “Totally. I mean, the mayor has already denounced the decision and everything. People will come around.”

I went back to watching Square Pegs on Hulu.com; thought nothing more of it. Until today, when I got of BART and saw a front page article in the Chronicle about same-sex marriage. Low and behold, it didn’t confirm my beliefs or my roommate’s. In fact, it proved us wrong, and I hate when that happens.

As it turns out, voters in 54 of the city’s 508 precincts voted in favor of the ban; that’s one in four San Franciscans. Though this seems like a relatively low number, the pro-8 supporters were clustered in districts with large populations- Chinatown, the Marina, Excelsior- with a high of 65 percent in the South of Market neighborhood (Surprised? I was) and Chinatown. It’s shockers like these that make me re-think some of the things I’ve said. I, like many others, sometimes forget about the conservative people that live in our flamboyantly liberal city. I forget that they are often times pocketed in the same areas I love (the Marina is one of my all-time favorite places to hang out and read in the city) and are often times are quite large in number.

Perhaps it’s attitudes like mine that helped Prop 8 pass. Many opponents interviewed in articles and stories for television and radio claim that people didn’t try hard enough. Many opponents interviewed by the press claim that people didn’t try hard enough. Many, like Steve Gibson, a gay activist in the Castro, don’t think of San Francisco as a place that necessarily needs protesting. After all, aren’t we all a part of the California liberal mindset? Apparently not. Even while growing up in the Bay Area, I assumed that certain areas were immune from more conservative thought. When family from out of town would automatically associate San Francisco with gay culture, I would often smile and laugh, “Yeah, it is kind of like that.”

What this really boils down to is making assumptions about the general composition of any city or town. It’s sad that it takes things like a ban on gay marriage to open my eyes to the different ideologies that actually exist within the supposed bubble that is the San Francisco Bay Area. But sometimes, you just need a kick in the pants to realize that you still need to fight for things, even in a liberal locale.

I wonder how effective protests actually are in changing minds, attitudes, and policies. If Prop 8 were put to a re-vote, would people in San Francisco change their tune? In all honesty, I think not. Still, that doesn’t make it any less important to show support for a cause and prove that the City is actually a dynamic political ground, and that we don’t all think as one. Maybe then more of my relatives would come to visit.

Neither my roommate nor I ended up going to the protests. We figured our thoughts would be better served by a booze-fueled discussion in our living room while “Wet Hot American Summer” chuckled along in the background. I guess that’s protest enough.


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