It was all kinds of amazing. I’d wanted to get a NoH8 photo taken ever since I first saw Louisa Bacio’s – I had no idea that “regular” people could get them. I thought it was just for celebrities and such.
Boy, was I wrong.
Yesterday, Burbank opened its new headquarters with a photo shoot. It was scheduled to go from 1pm to 5pm; first come, first served, but they promised they’d get to everyone in line.
That should have been my first clue. And it was, to a certain extent – I made plans to get ready (after laundering my “white” shirts) and leave my house by 11:15am to get in line. Surely I’d be close to the front.
I got there at 11:45, and knew immediately where to go from the line of animated people wearing white shirts. I parked several blocks away, in the first spot I could grab, and went to join the adventure.
It was an amazingly diverse group. The two people directly in front of me were young lesbians, a tall, gorgeously round black woman and her younger, shorter, only slightly less round (and gorgeous) Latina girlfriend. They were affectionate in line; and as I looked up and down, listened to the chatter, I realized everyone who was there was with someone, and they were all affectionate.
Loving. Hugging and smooching, laughing, touching up each other’s makeup (or rad hair, for the guys), tugging on shirts. There were babies and old people and everything in between. If I had to guess, I’d say the median age was mid-30s, though every age group was represented.
They must have started shooting early; before 1pm came along, the line was moving and we were given model releases to fill out. The number on my page was 104; the line stretched long behind me. I’m guessing there were 500 people there, but that’s just a guess.
Once we were inside, there were stations with volunteers wearing red shirts ready to put the tattoo on. Ah, so much sense! Not hand-painted, which I can see would take forever. (Note: when someone changed their mind about where on their face to put the tattoo, the volunteers removed the first one by placing duct tape on it and rubbing it hard before peeling it off. I used baby oil when I got home – much easier!)
I nabbed a chair after getting tattooed, and alternatively read and people watched. There was a group wearing rainbow colored leis and waving a rainbow flag – it looked like maybe 8 or 9 family members. In another corner, two women in their early 40s I’d guess held a sign that mentioned they’d gotten married 3 times in 3 different states to each other; they were celebrating their 10th anniversary. A gal next to me had white boxing gloves – one of them had the NoH8 symbol on it, the other Just Love (except a bright red heart was in place of the word Love). People were friendly – groups formed, separated, formed again. The first 75 people seemed to go very slowly. Time ticked on.
Numbers were called and a group of us got up and moved to a different line – the one where we paid. Once we were in where the photographer was, things picked up.
The photographer was a slender young man with a businesslike camera and flash, a fan behind him and the appropriate reflectors behind him, a white backdrop in front. He posed us all – babies to grandmas – looking fierce, looking like love, looking like hope. I paid, got in another line, got my piece of duct tape over my mouth (glad I kept remembering that and didn’t bother with lipstick), and then it was my turn.
Sideways to the camera. Lean forward. Hand on hip, other hand in V sign over my head. Straight on, turn head, hands in prayer position. Lean forward. Great, girl. Hug, next.
Taken at home – the real thing will be better!
It was over. Exhausted, I stripped the tape off my mouth, walked through the t-shirt shop without buying anything, and made the long walk back to my car. The silence on that walk was deafening; when I got in my car, it took me a few minutes to get my seatbelt on and get going.
I’d spent 4 hours in line, two minutes getting my photo taken, all to take a stand for equal rights for all people – gay, straight, black, brown, yellow, blue, green, transgender, bisexual, honey it doesn’t matter. If you’re human, you’re my equal. I did it for family, for friends lost and living, for love.
As I drove away, I realized that not once while I was waiting did I feel uncomfortable, out of my element, or threatened in any way (which can sometimes happen when you’re with that many strangers). I don’t know if it was the common cause that united us, or if it was just all that love and affection pouring over everyone that made a difference. But those people I spent four hours with? Those are my people. And they were all over whatever spectrum you want to judge them with. Age wise, sexuality wise, color wise. It may have exhausted me physically and mentally (I only got about 800 words written last night), but in hindsight?
It sent my spirit soaring.
I’m driving along, after spending a lovely time dreaming up mischief and talking writing with my good friend Tameri Etherton (stopped by for 20 minutes, ended up staying 2 & 1/2 hours…). I’m heading home after a fabulous weekend in San Diego with the hubs.
And I’m getting sleepy. Oh man. This isn’t good. So I change up the radio stations. First the news, then National Public Radio, then Country Music (don’t judge), back and forth, back and forth. It doesn’t work, though. So I dig through my cds and find a vocal warmup one that I had borrowed from my hubby.
That worked. Kind of. I mean, when you sing in the car, really vocalize, it’s tiring. You’re also bringing in a lot of oxygen into your system, so you wake up. Weird, but usually it works for me.
This time, I became aware of another pressing need. A bathroom, to be precise. But I’m on the 5 North. Not the friendliest freeway. Besides, I went through Werner Erhardt’s est program. I could hold it. I’d been trained. (Okay, it was 33 years ago, but still…) I cursed the black cherry Steaz that Tameri had kindly given me from her stash. I could do this. I’m famous for not stopping while making the LA/San Diego drive. I could so make it all the way home without stopping.
The 5 Freeway needs more Rest Stops! Just saying.
I decided to sing some more. Except that put pressure on my bladder. So I concentrated on the radio, and there was something about coral reefs, how the rise in acids in the ocean is killing them, and there was the sound of rushing water over the reefs. I changed the channel. A song came on about every storm having an end. Rain. Sheesh.
On the news channel, they talked about how this is the fourth dry year in a row, and how we need rain. The fire danger is higher, and fire companies are bringing in the big belly helicopters early in preparation. More water. Okay, seriously?
By this time, I had the lap part of my seat belt gripped in my hand just under my breasts, so it wouldn’t press on my bladder. I survived the 101-5 split, and made my way through the zoo area (Zoo parking lot full! Zoo entrance backed up!) – where the traffic slowed to a crawl. I believe I started to whimper.
Not only is my bladder in pain, but so are my kidneys. My liver is chuckling (because usually it’s the one feeling the pain) and my kidneys are threatening to go on strike and my bladder says it has a bomb and is going to explode my entire body if I don’t get to a bathroom like NOW. I deal with thoughts of just letting go, but replacing the front seat isn’t in the budget and I didn’t want to even think of how long it would take to get the urine smell out of my car.
Burbank. Speeds picked up, but I don’t know Burbank at all. I don’t know where the fast bathrooms are, or where I can find the easiest off/on to the freeway. So I kept going, but by now I’m desperately looking for a likely place to pull over.
The 5 Freeway splits Burbank in two. This causes me much confusion every time I go there. I’m sure it’s something genetic. Or maybe it’s just me? Nah…
Traffic slows to a crawl again, and I saw a sign – Lankershim, 2 miles. Okay, I know Lankershim. I can get off at Lankershim, and surely – even though I’m a couple miles north of the area of Lankershim that I know – SURELY there will be some place for me to go.
I’m getting threatening texts from my bladder which I have to ignore because I don’t want a $159 ticket. My kidneys are complaining about a back-up in the system. My spleen is looking on in amusement, while my gall bladder is considering joining up with my bladder in the “blow up the body” game.
I hang on grimly to the lap belt and finally reach the Lankershim off ramp. I come to the stop sign, and my heart falls down to cozy up against my stomach which doesn’t have room because my bladder is so fracking big by now. I land in an industrial area. Oh, help.
I look left, toward North Hollywood. Nothing. The road curved around and I couldn’t see much. At this point, I would take a dense thicket of bushes to pee behind, but I didn’t see any of those, either. Just a lot of concrete and asphalt and, thank goodness, a 5 North onramp on the other side of the street.
I look to my right – and there, shining and pure white and looking absolutely gorgeous in all its glory, is a privately-owned gas station (no tall sign visible from the freeway). Surely there is a bathroom. I turn right, pull in, park, lock the car, and waddle in (feeling about twenty years’ pregnant by this point). I ask for the bathroom and I’m given a token.
At first, the token didn’t work – panic threatened – but then it did. I got inside, locked the door, set my purse down, and finally got some sweet relief. As the minutes tick by and my bladder empties itself, I note my sunglasses, sitting on the counter. And I think, that was stupid, I should have put them on my head. But all in all, if I end up leaving them behind, it would be a trade well worth it.
Twenty minutes later my bladder finally sighs in happy relief. My kidneys still aren’t talking to me, but they aren’t screaming for my imminent death anymore, either. My gall bladder is sulking but quiet, and all is back to normal in my body.
I wash my hands and duck out of the bathroom, wave sheepishly at the guy behind the counter. As I go to my car I think, I should really gas up while I’m here – until I note the price – higher by 25 cents than anywhere I’d seen. I still had half a tank and was only about forty minutes from home. So, a pass.
As I drove out I realized the gas station was dingy and dirty. I’ve got grease on the bottom of my boot and my clothes smell faintly of cigarettes and cheap beer.
But I can handle the traffic now. I get back onto the freeway, smile at the other people in cars as we chug along at five miles per hour. It’s not until I move into the lanes for the 118 Freeway that I realize I’m not wearing my sunglasses.
(The above sunglasses are Ray Bans. My sunglasses were not Ray Bans. But they were cute.)
I laugh. Did me thinking about leaving them behind help make my mind release all thought of taking them with me? It doesn’t matter, I decide.
All in all, it’s the best trade I’ve ever made in my life.
Thanks for stopping by! Have you ever made a trade you liked? Regretted? Let’s chat!