|“not an uncommon example of humanity in SC: Leroy Smith helps white supremacist to shelter & water as heat bears down.” Image/caption source: @RobGodfrey|
I came upon a wedding guest list tucked inside a legal pad. I needed the pad for a workshop: “Racial Issues in the LGBT Community.” But the list? What was I hanging on to—the way Amy once loved me? I know it wasn’t perfect, but what is? Hell, if love required perfection, there’d be no love at all. I was in a mood before I ever walked into that workshop. Then we had to name our preferred pronouns. I wanted to say this and that. I know trans people suffer, but do we really need to make an 80-year-old straight guy with a beard say he, him, his? By the time someone said hetero-normative, I was sick of words. It helped when Lester told us he was there because his gay son died in a car accident. Plain English. Real grief. The next day a newspaper photo caught my eye: black cop guiding sun-baked supremacist up South Carolina stairs toward air-conditioning. The cop looked sure on his feet, the white guy ready to topple onto his swastika. It was the day the Confederate flag came down at the state house. A reporter asked the cop why he thought the photo went wild on the Internet. Love, he said. I think that’s the greatest thing in the world—love. Yes, that, I thought, breaking down at last—for Amy and me, for Lester and his son, for the cop, for the hater, for the whole racist, trans-phobic, hetero-normative world.
Margaret DeRitter lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with her dog, Murray. When she’s not walking him in the woods, paddling her kayak or writing poetry, she teaches college journalism classes and does freelance writing and editing. She worked as a full-time journalist for 30 years, including 22 at the Kalamazoo Gazette, Her poetry has appeared in Scarlet Literary Magazine, Melancholy Hyperbole, Midnight Circus and Encore.