Reflections on the NOM tour: The front lines of loss, then equality
August 14, 2010
(Phyllis threw herself into the tour right in the middle of it and under trying circumstances, yet has done amazing job bringing us photography truly worth a thousand words. Her’s her reflection on the NOM tour. -Adam)
by Phyllis Lozano
When I was approached to come on the tour I had a lot of reservations. My partner of six years was dying of cancer. The last two months were really difficult for more than just the obvious reasons. I had just started a new quarter of school and took an incomplete because I could not concentrate on anything other than Maureen and the inevitability of what was to come. I knew that some of my co-workers were on the tour and when I spoke to Maureen about it she said she thought I should go. She said what better way to fight for marriage equality than to be on the front line of the battle. When Arisha approached me about leaving I said I would consider it because I thought it would be a good idea to get away and clear my mind.
I boarded a plane July 23 not knowing what to expect or what my contribution was going to be. My first rally was in Indianapolis, Indiana. We got to the State Capitol building and I thought to myself “wow, this is sort of eventful” as about 15 minutes later pro-equality supporters started to show up. It was super-hot and humid. I was running around photographing the speakers on the NOM side. The NOM side outnumbered us by about 10 or 20 people. As I was photographing the scene, I heard a bullhorn with chanting and when I looked up I saw nearly 200 people standing on the sidewalk yelling out things like “equality not hate”.
I photographed a woman standing toe-to-toe with a NOM supporter, sign to sign, for what they believed in.
It was a very powerful sight for me because I realized I was a part of something big. I realized that this was the front line of battle that Maureen was talking about.
From city to city and in every state I met people like me, wanting to fight for something that I want one day. I kept hearing in my ear “this is exactly where you need to be:, not just for me, but also for Maureen. In spite of missing my family and friends I knew this was the place I was going to make the biggest difference, at least for now.
I thought being in close proximity with two people that I work with was not going to work for me, and that served to be true at times. We have gotten into some disagreements but nothing we couldn’t say sorry for and move on with. We have solidified the already strong bond we have and will continue, moving forward, to “have each other’s back”. There were many times I wished I could hopped on a plane and come home like when my daughter broke up with her boyfriend and called me and said “I wish you were here” or when the Prop 8 decision was read.
I have a good and bad memory from all of the rallies we have been to. My best memory so far was in Madison, Wisconsin. When I saw the pro-equality supporters marching up the street to the State Capitol and chanting, it was very emotional. At that moment I was proud to be apart of that community, seeing the camaraderie and people gay and straight standing side by side fighting for equality, it was awesome, all I could do was cry. My worst memory was when I interviewed a man particularly obsessed with same-sex sodomy in who would not shake the hand of a black woman because she is black or even of Anthony because he is gay. To talk to him and hear the fear and hate in the words he delivered made me sad.
Following the tour around and documenting what we see and talking to the different people for and against the National Organization for Marriage and their message of hate and fear gave me a sense of peace in myself. I come from a church background myself and believed the lies for a long time. I finally feel like I have made a contribution to equality by exposing the lies told by this organization.
I don’t know what it’s going to be like when I go home. I will know where I am when I wake up and what I’m doing for the day, but the one thing that will change in me is I will know I had a part of something that was bigger than me. I will continue to fight for equality probably for the rest of my life, but this is so far my proudest moment.