By the time you read this, I’ll be en route from Seattle to Norfolk, where you and I will meet up, load up your car, and drive to D.C. for Saturday’s Women’s March. As you know, we’ll be staying at cousin John’s place in the D.C. suburb of Olney — a half-hour train ride to D.C.’s Union Station and the march site. (As you may not know or precisely remember because I sure did not, John and Katie’s kids are Maddie and Patrick, John’s siblings are Beth, Diane and Amy, and I’m guessing a third of these people have spouses who also have names? I’m bringing flash cards. We can run them on the road.)
Of course we’d hoped to go to an inauguration. I imagine we could still go to one — there are plenty of tickets left to Trump’s coronation, rich with off-brand talent and the deserted seats of Congress members repulsed by Trump’s derision of an American Civil Rights hero, or mockery of a disabled reporter, or general garbage-heartedness.
But once we learned the subject of the inauguration would be not America’s first female president but a tax-dodging, crotch-grabbing racist, we decided to aim for the march. Have you read “The Guiding Vision and Definition of Principles of the Women’s March on Washington” document? Oh my God it’s amazing, filled with proclamations like, “We believe that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights,” and, “We believe gender justice is racial justice is economic justice” and tons of other sentences we need to hear out loud and on the record as we head into the era of Trump.
Forgive me for devoting so many syllables to the suckiness of Trump, but he’s on my mind as I write to you, in large part because he’s the antithesis of every value you ever imparted to me: Bullying is evil. Lies are worthless. Every human matters. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And don’t mess with the First Amendment and the free exchange of ideas.
I’ll never forget when I was 12 and you learned that numerous American schools were pushing to ban the Judy Blume book "Blubber" over its tough but true-to-life portrayal of childhood bullying. I don’t know if you knew you were the mother of a bullying subject at the time — I was a gay kid growing up in 1980s Texas, after all — but seeing you march us both down to the public library to check out "Blubber" and read it together is something I’ll never stop being grateful for. (Bonus: After reading "Blubber," which we both loved, you helped me track down Judy Blume’s mailing address so I could write her a fan letter and SHE WROTE BACK.)
Maybe this is true of lots of gay sons and their moms, but it feels like we were always communing around entertainments with a strong female lead, from the annual television broadcasts of "The Wizard of Oz" to dance-along screenings of John Waters’ original "Hairspray" to the night we had synchronous insomnia and met in the living room for a 3 a.m. broadcast of "The Rose."
Forever best in show, for invoking your appreciation of well-presented logical argument: that rainy weekday morning when I made the case that, as a high-achieving fifth-grader with a spotless attendance record, it made perfect sense for me to take the day off school so we could see a matinée of "The Sound of Music."
I love our connection through art and entertainment. I love dazzling my friends with your pop-cultural exclamations, like when you called first thing in the morning to say, “I'm worried about James Franco. He's doing too much!”
But I want the two of us to experience something more, together, and I want it to be a monumental event in American women’s history. We’ve experienced other bits of monumental history together, with the election of America’s first black president and federal recognition of same-sex marriage — events that required the work of many million women, and benefited many million women, but women weren’t the focus. They were one group of many. I want a landmark event focused exclusively on American women, and I want the two of us to get as close as possible to the action.
One reason this is so important to me: Over the past two and a half decades, you have repped so hard for LGBT causes, from diving into PFLAG (and inspiring Dad to come with you) to working LGBT hotlines to full-time volunteering at an HIV-focused food bank, an adventure that got you in tight with a generation of Dallas drag queens, who you'd join out on the town by doubling your usual makeup, tossing on a boa, and passing as the slenderest-handed female impersonator in central Texas.
You repped just as hard for gay marriage, speaking out among your not-always-amenable-to-LGBT-advancement social circle and introducing Jake as my husband before even I felt fully comfortable doing so. I know what it feels like to have that kind of support, that depth of respect and sense of urgency regarding my well-being, and I want you and every woman in America to experience that, en masse.
And yes, the inauguration of our first female president would’ve fit the bill nicely. But so will throwing ourselves into one of the most substantial and significant marches in modern American history. Even with the Trumpening, there's so much for all of us who are, and/or love, women to celebrate and be hopeful about: the uniquely ambitious political reporting of Teen Vogue, the brain-expanding feminist writing of Lindy West and Roxane Gay, the intensely brilliant work of Beyoncé, the continued existence of Meryl Streep, etc. ad infinitum.
For now, thanks for raising me right and for giving me a feminist role model in my own home. Can't wait to march and yell and fret with you in a sea of women and those who love them.
P.S. Just listened to your voicemail. Yes, my phone charger will work with your phone. See you soon.