Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Sometimes, we win

Tonight I've had two live streams playing on my computer. One was of Margaret Thatcher's funeral. The other was of the third reading of the marriage equality bill in the New Zealand parliament - a bill which passed.

The timing was almost too beautiful to be true. I grew up with the homophobic hell Thatcher's Section 28 caused. There could not have been a more symbolic end, one era buried, another beginning.

Over the past week, I've seen arguments that those of us who celebrated Thatcher's death should be focused on the collective, not the individual, on empathy and love rather than hate.  I have rarely seen more empathy, more love, more solidarity. 

Utah Phillips said "Yes, the long memory is the most radical idea in this country. It is the loss of that long memory which deprives our people of that connective flow of thoughts and events that clarifies our vision, not of where we're going, but where we want to go." That is an idea that transcends national boundaries. A friend - born several years later - has been learning with growing horror about the 1981 Hunger Strike. A colleague was good enough to put up with me ranting about S28 to her on the bus this morning, and she responded with stories of supporting her queer whanau. People have been remembering those they knew - and those they didn't - who did not survive those years. In this symbolic occasion, we have been remembering, sharing, and knowing we can fight together.

It's not that Thatcher's legacy is over. On the contrary, the systematic destruction of the welfare state is in full and vicious swing. I'm not so naive as to think that the death of an elderly woman, however evil she was, is going to make much of a direct impact on the world.

It's not that marriage equality is the be-all and end-all. I don't believe this is the most important issue where sexual and gender diversity are concerned, not with the levels of youth homelessness, not with the violence trans women face in male-designated prisons. I hope the energy directed towards marriage equality will continue in other struggles.

It's not that the world has dramatically changed in this one evening, even though it has on a personal level for me. It's that it can, and will, change. It's that even when something is so pervasive that there seems no way of fighting it, we can, and we will, and one day it will crumble.

And sometimes, just sometimes, we win.


Brett Dale said...

Last night is one of the greatest days in our country's history.

Every NewZealander should be proud to be a kiwi today.

To those 77 Mp's who voted for this bill, you are on the right side of History.

This news has gone right around the world.

What a great day for human rights.

AnneE said...

A brilliant post, Anthea, thank you so much. And yes, thank you to those 77 MPs too, and all the people who helped bring this about.