Widgets Magazine


The Transitive Property: Lesson of the week: gay people throw the best parties

So on Saturday I went to San Francisco for the San Francisco Equality Awards, a banquet event in which prominent figures in the LGBT community are honored. A staff member of Equality California, the organization holding the event, had read one of my columns, and she liked it, so she offered me a free ticket to the event. I, always a fan of both free things and LGBT people, certainly obliged to attend the banquet, which would be both free and filled with LGBT folk. It was the perfect combination.

The event was held at San Francisco City Hall. Before you graduate, my Stanford readers, you have to visit San Francisco City Hall. It’s a gorgeous space. It’s also a space soaked in LGBT history — Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the country, was assassinated in this building. The very room where the dinner was held was where the gay marriages happened in 2005. Both events changed the face of the fight for LGBT rights forever. Hundreds of gay couples had wed on the very steps I climbed to get to my table. And I was lucky enough to have dinner there. Just the very thought overwhelmed me.

I admit I certainly wasn’t accustomed to the finery. I rented a tuxedo for the first time. (The invitation stated that it was a “black tie” event. For a while I thought I had to wear a black tie, which I thought was kind of weird. Fortunately, one of my residents corrected me before I made a fool of myself.) I didn’t have to make my own drinks and implement my Terra Happy-Hour-earned skill of pouring out a shot (or two, usually two) by eye — instead, waiters held trays with already mixed drinks and glasses of white wine, ready to be consumed (which I did, heartily). The before-dinner cocktails also included hors d’oeuvres I could not pronounce — and don’t get me started on dinner. I’ll just say that it was certainly a step up from the dining hall (sorry, Stern Dining). Afterward, there was dessert and dancing, where, of course, the DJ had to play Lady Gaga. And after watching a room full of lesbians sing to Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” I don’t think I’ll be able to listen to that song the same way ever again.

I also met many LGBT Stanford alumni, from whom I learned that apparently back in the day, 20 years ago or so, there were less than 10 open LGBT people on campus. I was glad to tell them we’ve certainly improved since then. (The saying “Branner sucks” was prominent 20 years ago, as well.) It felt good to connect with people like me. Overall, it was a pretty amazing experience. Yes, we are marginalized. We can’t get married either. But hell, we can certainly throw a good party.

One of the people honored was Victoria Kolakowski, the first openly transgender Superior Court judge elected in the entire country and who I am proud to say is the judge representing my home county, Alameda County. She accepted her award with grace — she told us how important it was for LGBT people — particularly transgender people — to hold positions of power, to raise awareness, to be out. When we do these things, people notice. And when people notice, there will be change. Don’t just sit there. Get out. Reach high. Take risks. That’s the only way we can get anything done.

That moment, I told myself I was going to do something important, too — something important enough that both LGBT and the general population are going to notice. It was at that moment that I realized that I didn’t just want any job; I wanted a job that helped LGBT people, that would further our cause and improve the lives of those who will come after me. I realized that I wanted to work for transgender rights. Trans rights are decades behind lesbian and gay rights. Something needs to be done. And I’m one of those people who can do something about it.

I know I have this column, that I’ve got my writing. And one of the pleasant surprises of this year is how important this column has become, not only to me and my friends, but to people outside of Stanford, to transgender people who are thirsting for literature that reflects their experience. I can do something with this. I’ve found what I wanted to do — no, it’s not something I want to do. It’s something I have to do. No matter what, it’s something I have to do. And nobody’s going to stop me.

Cristopher has concluded that watching elderly people dance to Lady Gaga is the most adorable thing ever. E-mail him at cmsb@stanford.edu.