Wishful thinking

Jul 28, 2010 at 5:00 am

Did you see the full moon last week? Like a giant flashlight in the sky, it was hard to miss. But as anyone who has worked in retail or customer service can tell you, the mysterious power of the full moon can be found not just in the sky, but also in the way people behave.

Were people driving a little crazier than usual? Being a bit more demanding, needy or even obscenely happy? Doing weird things to break away from the normal daily routine of life? Thinking about “big” things, like the meaning of life? Or just acting drunk in general? I don’t know how or why the moon affects people, but when I see it shining in all its fullness, it affects me.

Now I am not a particularly superstitious person, but I do believe working for something while also hoping for it can take you far. So when life gives me difficult situations, or when I turn on the news, I try to work toward a solution and throw some well-meaning wishing in for good measure. Some of the world’s biggest problems can seem so immense that often, at the end of the day, all that’s left to do is wish for things to get better. These days, there are more things to worry about than ever, like the oil spill in the gulf or “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or Glenn Beck.

Ever since I interviewed an LGBT activist from Uganda, whose country has outlawed homosexuality and threatened gays with life sentences in prison or even execution, I’ve been feeling pretty lucky (see my previous column, “Being Gay in Uganda,” July 14). Here was someone my age, with a job similar to mine (a journalist), who instead of being able to make jokes about being gay, has had to basically run for her life for being out. She has lost her job, her relationship with her church and family, and is forced to move every couple of weeks just to stay safe. I wanted to help her, but after writing the column, I was faced with both the feeling of doing everything I could do and not doing nearly enough.

When I was 14, I wished on a full moon that I would one day have a girlfriend. Over the years, I learned to be more specific in my requests. Of course, at the time, I hadn’t realized that having a girlfriend consisted of more than just mix tapes, rainbows and running through a field of poppies in my Doc Martens with “the one.” Maybe a more helpful wish would have been for an uncanny ability to accept the flaws of others, as well as my own, or even better, a keen sense of when to let go. Nonetheless, my wish was granted bountifully a number of times. Sure, it wasn’t all easy. In fact, every relationship I’ve been in has taken a lot of work, but it’s taught me the power of the old saying, “Be careful what you
wish for.”

As a lover of the ladies, I often worry about the rampant homophobia that exists not only in parts of the United States, but in other parts of the world as well. While I still don’t have the right to marry my partner in Kentucky, I could conceivably hop in the car and drive northeast (or northwest to Iowa) to a state that recognizes gay marriage. I am free to contribute to society without hiding who I am. While this country has a lot of work to do, equal rights for gays is a possibility, now more than ever.

So I decided to make a wish for Uganda. I tried the catch-an-eyelash-on-your-finger-and-blow-it-off technique, but it just seemed sarcastic. And what am I going to do, break a wishbone for Uganda’s acceptance of gaydom? Make a toast to Uganda figuring all that stuff out? Crawl around Cherokee Park, searching for a four-leaf clover so that gay Ugandans don’t go to prison? Can that kind of thing wait for my New Year’s wish?

Then last week, I saw the full moon, that worldwide source of inspiration and mystery. And instead of wishing for Uganda, I made a wish for the Ugandan activist I interviewed. As a person who works relentlessly for the right to be treated with respect, to walk to work in peace, to be herself without compromising her safety, she deserves to see her own wishes come true.