Jennifer McGuire of Visalia, CA
THE BRAVEST PERSON IN THE ROOM
By Jennifer McGuire
I don’t know his name. I don’t know his background. I don’t know his story. I do know he was the bravest person in the room.
The room is the City Council chambers of Porterville, California on July 16, 2013, standing room only, and there is a feeling of tension that is palpable.
He is 17. He is very cute. He is wearing a rainbow bracelet shaped like a bow tie. I want to hug him. He is gay. I know he is gay because he stood up during oral communications and came out. He came out for the first time in public. He came out to the community in which he lives. He came out, unintentionally, to his family. He stood in front of a room full of people, half of which were expounding hatred and lies; in front of the council, of which 3 members were openly ridiculing his personhood; in front of news cameras and journalists and law enforcement and thankfully, the part of the audience who were his friends and supporters of LGBTQ persons, and he came out.
Jennifer McGuire, of Visalia, joined three others from California’s vast Central Valley, driving 250 miles to attend the now-annual Valentine’s Day protest at San Francisco City Hall. Since Proposition 8 took away the right to marry the individual of their choice, members of the LGBT community have taken part in “right-to-marry” protests each year. Jennifer posted this to her Facebook today, and it is reprinted here with her permission.
Am I Willing to Look Down the Nozzle of a Fire Hose?
Yesterday I was detained by the SFPD at the County Courthouse with fifteen other peaceful, nonviolent protesters as part of the annual marriage equality Valentine’s Day protests nationwide. The day, like the courthouse in San Francisco, was beautiful; the rally and protest were well attended, well organized, well covered by the media, and well laced with powerful speeches and voices for LGBTQ equality.
The experience was amazing. I drove up the from the Central Valley of CA, one of the most conservative areas of the country, with 3 friends to participate in the action in San Francisco, one of the most liberal, gay-friendly cities in America. We knew we were driving 8 hours to be arrested, yet our conversation centered around organic farming, relationship status’, and ensuring cupcakes were being delivered to children’s Vday parties we were missing.
At his chosen family memorial, Jennifer McGuire, the “Mama Badger” who took Eric into her home after he was kicked out of his parent’s, gave this moving eulogy. The crowd was in tears as it rose to its feet in applause at the end.
“As he wrote in his note to me, “Oh God, where do I begin?” I know there are people who knew him longer and there are people who may have known him better, but over the last year, and especially the last three months we lived together, EricJames was My Boy, and my heart is broken.
And I will never get over this, but We will get through it.
As much as I would love everything I say today to be cutesy antidotes and sappy remembrances, and there will be those, don’t worry, but there are also some things I need to make sure are said, said out loud, said for him, for all of us.