Charlotte Scholl Shurtz
Updated: Jun 2
The first political campaign I volunteered for, Arizona Proposition 102, was against my own future rights. I was 13.
In 2008, Arizona Prop. 102 fit into a larger picture of a national battle on LGBTQ rights, specifically marriage. If passed, Prop 102 would add a definition of marriage as between one man and one woman to the Arizona constitution, in an effort to ensure same-sex marriage would continue to be prohibited.
As a young teen, I didn't fully understand Prop 102, let alone have words to describe my own sexuality. But my church said it was the right thing to do so I went from door to door with my family.
Now I regret it. Deep regret that wakes me up at night in a sweat and gives me guilt-induced stomach-aches. But I don't remember feeling discomfort about Prop 102 as a kid. I just knew that it was what both my family and church said was right, so I supported it, too.
I wonder if my parents have ever thought back to those events since I came out to them.
As bats and bugs swooped across the street in the dusk, we kids stood by the stroller holding petitions while my mom explained to our neighbors that we were collecting signatures to get Prop 102 on the ballot. I heard their explanation that Prop 102 was about protecting families.
But what families were they protecting? Not their own, since their daughter (me) is a bisexual woman, a woman who can love and marry either man or woman.
As a child seeing the YES for Marriage (aka NO for Gay Marriage) sign in our front yard I felt proud. Dad cut out paper figures of a man and a woman and glued them to poster board with an "=" sign and a heart. The equation seemed so simple it was obviously right.
It was simple and obvious until I recognized the fluttering feeling in my stomach and my eagerness to be around certain other girls, even in their periphery, was the same feeling as when I had a crush on a boy. Until I realized that I didn't just really like other girls and want to spend time with them in a friendly way.
I wanted to be "with" them, to kiss and to love and to laugh and to sit in comfortable companionship with them the same ways I now do with my husband.
I told my parents I am bisexual in March but we haven't talked about it since then.
Sometimes I wonder if my parents were raising us again, would they still lead us from door to door asking for signatures on Prop 102?
Do they still feel proud that they had one of the first, homemade Prop 102 sign in our small town? Do they still believe that voting for Prop 102 was the right choice? Or do they, too, feel regret? I find myself wondering this in quiet lulls in conversation when I call home. I can't stop wondering if they feel any differently now than they did then. But I don't ask. I don't ask because I'm afraid their answer will be no.