Remembering 9/11
A Gay Opinion
by R. A. Melos

I slept through the end of the world as we knew it.

Oh yes, I kid you not, I was tucked safely in my bed until my mother woke me from my slumbers around 11:30 AM, when she returned home from work slightly more than an hour after leaving the house. My first impressions of the attacks were through sleepy eyes, as I watched CNN re-broadcasting images of the World Trade Center collapsing upon itself; an image I would see repeatedly for days and weeks to come. I felt the unfamiliar emotions associated with crying, something I hadn't allowed myself to feel in several years, welling up in me, as they would every time I saw another video capture of the destruction caused by a group of terrorists who hated America, and Americans, and apparently just about every other nation on the planet.

So the world was changed. Granted, it was a forced change. But a change it was, nonetheless. I was in a state of shock, as were people the world over. Something so terrible couldn't happen in America. Nothing like this had happened in my lifetime, so it just seemed a little like a dream. Sure I'd seen movies of Pearl Harbor, usually starring John Wayne, William Holden and either Deborah Kerr or June Allyson as the female love interest, but this wasn't a movie.

The first thing I noticed was the lack of airplanes overhead, a week's worth of silence which I now miss, as I stop to look at every plane which now flies overhead, knowing I will never willing get on one of them again. There is a certain trust people must have when they fly, in their pilots and fellow passengers, which for me will be forever gone.

I didn't like flying before 9/11 and am attracted to it even less after the fact. At least prior to the terrorist attacks, in my mind anyway, the only thing I had to fear from flying was crashing due to mechanical or pilot error. Now I would have to have faith and trust in every one of my fellow passengers, the security guards and other security personnel, and a large portion of the human race in general.

I wasn't very trusting of my fellow human beings before the 11th of September, something instilled in me by a society which scorned me for what I am by the natural order of my DNA, so I doubt that trust will easily be earned again. But that impression is not solely from the attacks on 9/11. The impression of mistrust of my fellow human beings came about, or should I say was enhanced, a day or two after the attacks, when it was made quite clear through the words of Jerry Falwell not every man was changed by an act of hate.

I'm of course referring to Mr. Falwell's statement blaming the fact God allowed the attacks to happen because of the gays, pagans, women's rights activists and probably Tinkie Winkie, although I could be mistaken about that last one. The point is, at a time when upheaval occurred, this man brought forth the unmistakable proof human beings cannot have peace because too many people refuse to accept too many other people.

Since September 11th, I've watched and listened as a great many citizens of the United States proudly proclaim to be God Fearing Americans. As a Pagan I don't fear the form of God in which I believe, nor do I believe God, the Universe, or even Tinkie Winkie had anything to do with allowing those attacks to take place. As an American I firmly believe in the freedom of my country, and the importance of all those freedoms and new freedoms continuing to exist.

Yet I watch the news, and hear average Joe Citizen telling Dale or Dan, or whatever Ken Doll replica of a news anchorman, how quickly he is willing to give up a little bit of his freedom to feel safe and secure. I cringe when I hear this, because I know what it's like to be told you don't have the freedom to do something you might want to do, and I find it hard to believe people would take their freedoms so lightly as to be willing to just hand them over to government officials with so much blind trust.

Of course I'm looking at the entire situation through the eyes of a gay man, who currently doesn't have the right to marry. I'm not talking about civil unions, but legal marriage, granting the homosexual a status equal to that of heterosexuals. It may seem unimportant, in the light of the attacks, but when gay activists willingly called for homosexuals to hold back on pushing issues such as same-sex marriage and partnership benefits, out of respect for the loss the country took, I was appalled.

It wasn't as if only the heterosexuals were affected by the attacks, and it isn't as if the world suddenly became more accepting of homosexuality because homosexuals were murdered in those attacks. No, when two days after the attacks a religious leader found a way to put his agenda's spin on something so tragic, and less than one year later we are still seeing gay bashing, and citizens actions groups supporting a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would ban same-sex marriages on a national level, and groups in Miami Florida attempting to repeal laws set in place to protect homosexuals, changes in the world aren't moving toward the better.

So now we are going to yet again remember those who lost their lives in an attack on the United States, and we're going to call them heroes, and hold ceremonies, and try very hard to stop feeling like crying when we look at future images of the World Trade Center collapsing on itself, and open our hearts to those people who would deny our very existence and our rights as citizens or human beings if it meant preventing another change in their already fragile world.

Unfortunately, the world turns on a daily basis, and life goes on, and while it is a nice tribute to remember those who lost their lives in a terrorist attack, we must all remember the quality of life of the living. If fighting to change that quality of life for the better is going to upset grief stricken America, as some opponents of any form of same-sex rights would have us believe, then so be it.

Each of us lost a sense of safety and security, and innocence on September 11th. I'm not willing to give up anything else, and I want all the rights I didn't have prior to September 11th, because I'm not willing to just let life go by without having the chance to live it exactly as I want to live it without compromise.

I can't change the fact I slept through the attacks of September 11th, but I'm awake now and I want breakfast and all sorts of rights for homosexuals before I sit down to lunch.