Our first day of “real” walking started this morning at 8am as we headed out to walk 7.2 miles around Lake Havasu City. The view was absolutely GORGEOUS. Probably the prettiest place I’ve ever been in my life.
We trucked on until 9, where we stopped at McCain’s office to talk about him being so Lwishy washy” on the issues. He was magically “out to lunch” at 9AM, but he also follows us on Facebook (and doesn’t like us, don’t think it was a coincidence).
After a quick break, we kept walking. We went through downtown Lake Havasu and then over the London Bridge and onto the island in Lake Havasu. By this time, it was 110+ and we were all so exhausted. We kept walking on, and eventually got to lunch with an LGBT organization in Lake Havasu.
I had the opportunity to chat with the LGBT community there–hear their concerns and struggles. I also chatted with two individuals, one who was a MTF and another was a FTM. I spoke to them about what it is like to be transgender in such a rural, conservative town–especially one that is NOT accepting of the LGBT community.
It felt so wonderful to see the hope in their eyes when we came. I also got the opportunity to talk about Trans Bodies, which THRILLED them.
After lunch, we finished up our mileage in Lake Havasu and hopped in the car to head to Kingman, where we met with the Vice Mayor/Council member for Kingman. We opened up some real dialogue and had some great educational moments. Many were unaware of the number of rights that are denied to LGBT couples and of the general uselessness of individual states allowing same sex marriage.
I think we opened up a lot of minds and hearts to our cause–spread love, respect, and awareness.
It was great to hear some of the town members echo our sentiments–that marriage equality is not about being gay, its a human right. That these issues are about civil rights–something people cannot legislate.
Today, however, was also a very trying day. It was almost 14 miles long–and Lake Havasu City was even hotter than Phoenix today (110 degrees!).
But just when every joint in my body starts to ache, when I don’t want to go on anymore, I remember why I’m walking.
I picture my partner walking down the aisle towards me. Thsat gleam in her cheeks I see when we’re spending time together. Happiness.
I think of the struggle my partner and I have both gone through to get where we are today. I think of all the ways I dealt with my life and extreme internalized homophobia. I think of how much I hated myself before I came out. I look down and see the scars on my arms, telling stories of pain and hurt. I feel the awkward patter of my heart reminding me of the years I lost to anorexia and bulimia–all because I hated who I am.
More than that, I think of the thousands of people all over the country, hell, the world, that can’t fight for themselves. An entire community made to feel like they are less worthy as people, simply because of how they express their gender or because of who they love. An entire community that is losing youth to suicide at a rate that is 5 times higher than straight youth–while people just stand by.
I spoke to a woman named Susan in Lake Havasu today. She told me stories about how when she transitioned from a man to a woman, everyone in a two town radius knew who she was. People would call her out in McDonalds–people she didn’t even know.
We talked about how she had to go all the way to Thailand for surgery because doctors in the U.S. either are not competent enough or are way too expensive to afford. We talked about how she drives three hours to Phoenix just to get hormones.
Her story was touching, and as I sat beside her and told her about my committment to making change in GLBTQ health, I remembered why I’m walking.
I’m walking for Susan. I’m walking for everyone who is denied those 1138 rights only entitled to heterosexual, married couples. I’m walking for the kids who are out there suffering in silence because they are made to feel like second class citizens.
Most importantly–I’m walking because a year ago, I met the love of my life. The only person I ever want to stand beside, the only person I’d dedicate my life to–both its ups and downs. I’m walking because I am worthwhile and I deserve to share each and every one of those 1138 rights with my partner.