Sneaking a peek at Lauren Carter’s The Reasons Why I Hate NATO article, yes, I actually do read other team members’ articles; I realized how I also hated NATO. I should really do something about this, I thought. I was proud that protestors were coming to Chicago and that someone was standing up. I was proud until I learned that the whole Occupy Movement from across the US was converging at the church literally neighboring my home.
While I used to be well informed about political matters, after college I admit my politically engaged momentum tickled down to watching the Daily Show. Back in those college years I was fighting tyranny, and marching in Take Back the Night, Pride, Anti-War Protests, and Chicago Immigration Reform March. Always armed with my super cool surplus army jacket sporting catchy phrases like “Will work for Social Change” and “God doesn’t discriminate in love, only religions do that,” I was a feisty force to be reckoned with in those early days.
What happened to that feisty, politically active, lesbian? I found myself very torn between wanting to join in the excitement and telling the anarchists to, “Stop drumming, and singing so I could sleep for Pete’s sake!” After all, I have work in the morning. “Big important Social Work stuff, like fighting poverty, heterosexism and HIV,” I thought all self-righteous. Grumble Grumble, stuffing ears with pillow. Then something far scarier occurred to me, I had officially undoubtedly turned into old grumpster.
When did this happen? How did I become so domesticated? I looked around at the beautiful home I created and felt a sense of longing for something else next to the mediocrity. I used to criticize my parents for not protesting Vietnam or becoming Hippies. Now, I was just like them. Feeling extremely old, I blamed work and falling in love for turning me into this. Still, I didn’t think of protesting, because Andrea and I agreed to babysit her nieces on Sunday and I don’t break my promises.
Deciding to at least become educated about the movement, I read on the Occupy Chicago website about how they were protesting the cuts to Mental Healthcare by dressing in hospital gowns and going door to door in Ron Emmanuel’s neighborhood asking, “Where is the nearest mental hospital.” For months I have been complaining about the cuts to mental health care, and nobody seemed to care. This was such a clever idea and even gave me chuckle, but way too early in the morning for a Saturday. If I wake up on my own early enough, I’ll go I thought to myself knowing full well I would sleep in. Of course I did, and soon forgot about my own hypocrisy.
After a long Saturday of drinking and celebrating with friends at Chicago’s May fest and later concert at The Elbow Room, Andrea and I stumbled home. On our way home we ran into protestors beaten and bruised from the police scuffle. They shuffled more than walked. We overheard their stories with both excitement and fear in their voices. Upon the last stretch of sidewalk, I had to step over the sleeping bodies of 50 or so mangled protestors. They all looked like homeless children clinging to their little stash of belongings. Stepping into my home, I felt this tremendous sense of guilt. I had been bought. I could have been a revolutionary, and I was bought by the security of a job, a warm bed, and the promise of equality. These people sleeping outside on our curb are the same people that would stand up and risk their lives if my rights and civil liberties were ever in jeopardy.
On Sunday morning I joined the march. I marched not because I thought it would end NATO or even cause a dent in the military industrial complex. I did not march because I thought I could regain my youth and sense of radicalism. I marched simply because I felt it was the least I could do. It was the least I could to show up and be counted with the masses that publicly state that this is wrong.
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Kimberly Rogers, LCSW. like many Queer Ohioans fled to Chicago when Issue #1 (most discriminating marriage ban in the US) passed by 75%. Now she works in the fight against HIV/AIDS as a psychotherapist and smarter-sex advocate. A Master’s graduate from the University of Chicago, Kim mixes her interests of gender, sexuality, queer politics, and mental health liberation into a her own Sex-Positive Psychotherapy Practice. She feels so fortunate to be working with such amazing and passionate people.