This post originally appeared on The Sassmouth Chronicles on March 13, 2009.
Last wednesday, March 4, was a very important day for champions of LGBT equality all around the country: it was the night before the California Supreme Court would hear the oral arguments about overturning Proposition 8. It was also a very important day for me, because Cycle 12 of America’s Next Top Model was premiering that night.
Such significant days call for plans of action.The marriage equality activists planned to stage a huge protest outside of City Hall in San Francisco, beginning as a march from the Castro all the way down Market, and ending at the sight of the protest. Scott and I planned to rent a ZipCar and drive to Sarah Jo and Judi’s house in the Outer Mission and watch the ANTM premiere with a cluster of friends, as has been our tradition for the last four or five cycles. Excitement all around.
That evening, around 6pm, Scott and I began to hear the sounds of the march drifting in through his bedroom window. “Oh, right,” I said. “That.” He pulled his curtain aside and we craned our necks to catch a glimpse of the crowd. It seemed like a pretty large group; the flow of people kept coming, waving signs and yelling into megaphones.
Eventually we could deny the siren song of the march no longer, and so we put our shoes on and went outside to join it. But only for about twenty feet, because I was walking to the gym and Scott was heading to Walgreens to get some Cheetos. Fortunately these were both on the parade route, so we were able to get in a few righteous fist pumps before ducking in to our respective locations.
During our brief stint as protesters that evening, Scott pointed something out. See, the ZipCar that I had rented was currently waiting in a parking lot behind the gas station by Scott’s apartment. This gas station only has one exit: out onto Market Street, the exact location currently being occupied by the marriage equality marchers. This troubled me. “These goddamn protesters better be done by the time I need that car,” I mused aloud. “If they make me late for Top Model, heads will fucking roll.”
And that’s when I had my moment of déja vu. I’d experienced this before.
On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. It was also the day of Sarah Joe’s surprise birthday party at a wine bar in Bernal. And, most significantly, it was the day after Whitney was declared the first plus-size winner in the history of America’s Next Top Model. Needless to say, there was a lot going on.
While I was happy about the court’s decision, I didn’t really grasp its significance yet. My mind was stuck on other matters—namely, the scandal that had suddenly erupted around Whitney. Evidently, she hadn’t always been plus-sized, and rumor had it that she’d been instructed to gain weight by the show’s producers to fulfill Tyra’s goal of having a full-figured winner. I was shocked, and could think about nothing else.
So, that night, Scott and I walked up Market towards the Castro so we could catch the 24-Divisadero into Bernal. I was yammering away like a chipmunk about the Whitney scandal while Scott dutifully listened and offered his own calm thoughts on the situation. But then, as we got closer to Market and Castro, I began to hear quite a ruckus. I noticed there were helicopters hovering in the sky above us, and what sounded like hundreds and hundreds of people shouting. I also heard what sounded like deep bass thumping.
“What in the fuck is going on?” I queried. And then, once we were within eyeshot of Castro between 17th and 18th, I saw what was happening: a huge-ass fucking block party. The street had been closed off to traffic, and no cars or buses were being allowed through. This was very bad news for me, because the 24 runs right through that block, and that’s where we’d intended to catch it.
My eyes went white with blind rage. “What the fuck is this? These goddamn fucking faggots think they can just throw a fucking block party whenever the fuck they fucking want to, nevermind those of us who need to catch a fucking bus to go to a fucking surprise birthday party in fucking Bernal! Great! Great! Now what the fuck are we going to do?”
“We’ll just catch a cab,” Scott said calmly.
“Oh, great!” I shrilled. “A fucking cab! And who can afford a fucking cab? I didn’t plan on paying for a fucking ca—”
“I’ll pay for it,” Scott said.
“Oh,” I said, deflated, still clutching my FastPass. “Well. Fucking faggots and their fucking block parties.”
Scott hailed a cab right away, and we climbed into the backseat. I continued muttering to myself. “I mean, that is just fucking ridiculous. Why do they think they can just throw parties like that? What’s the big fucking occasion, anyway?” I was distracted from my rant by a group of teary-eyed men embracing on the sidewalk, several of whom held signs that read Equality at Last. “What’s that about?” I thought. And then: “Ohhhh. Right. Marriage. Umm. Yay us!”
With that situation neatly resolved, I immediately returned to the topic of Whitney’s fat-girl credibility. “I mean, sure, I like her and all, but what if this is true? I mean, Anya really had much more model potential than Whitney did, and if Whitney was skinny, she’d have nothing to offer. It’s only because of the extra poundage that…what’s wrong?”
I’d noticed that Scott was staring out the window, brows lightly furrowed. “Well,” he began, “this is kind of a big day, and all you can talk about is Top Model.”
He had a point, although I still resisted at first. “I understand that, but what am I supposed to say? I’m glad it happened, but does that mean everything else has to be on hold?” But eventually I let my Whitney obsession go…at least until we arrived at the wine bar, at which point I picked it up again with the other ANTM watchers in attendance.
Of course, our time as first-class citizens proved to be as short-lived as Whitney’s “My Life as a Covergirl” commercials. And now here I was, 10 months later, once again being torn in half. Top Model. Sarah Jo and Judi. Blocked transportation. Marriage equality. All the elements were there.
But fortunately, the protest was over by the time we picked up the ZipCar.