Political Fruit

I have a slow colon. It’d make sense to blame the sedentary lifestyle of the writer, sitting at my desk, tapping away, too caught up in the words pouring from that magical place in my mind to heed the signals that my large intestine needs a work out. Sure, I could buy that. But I blame the political fruits that my dad’s ethics (and eventually my own) restricted me from eating. While other kids were happily building strong intestinal walls to last a lifetime by noshing away at grapes washed down with a tall glass of OJ, I was just standing in my imaginary picket line longing to join them.

I’m a berry lover, so grapes are not my absolute favorite fruit, but they rank in the top ten. During the collective struggles of migrant farm workers for better conditions, my dad refused to buy grapes. That he still drank grapes in the form of deep red wine he bought by the gallon didn’t alter the fact that I had no grapes to eat. I went along with the grape boycott for the sole reason that I thought my dad was always the smartest person in the room (he still is) and if he said it’s wrong to eat grapes, than it was infallibly wrong. He was like my Pope.

So fast forward a few years to when I have a mind of my own. It’s 1977 and I love orange juice. By now my dad has moved to Oregon and I’m living on my own and still in high school. (Mom had been out of the picture since I was five, but for the record she was living in Southern California near an orange grove). I was living in Berkeley. Then way over in Florida, a woman named Anita Bryant had an opinion about homosexuality. She was against it. And she loved orange juice enough to be on TV singing the praises of OJ. So, I was faced with an ethical dilemma. What do I love more: OJ or homosexuals? Naturally, I stopped drinking orange juice.

Especially after Harvey Milk was murdered the following year.

When people start getting murdered for actively being themselves and working to allow other people to freely be themselves, I think about the bewigged dudes who scratched out the constitution with quill pens, how in 1789 when they added on the first ten amendments and so created the Bill of Rights they might not have envisioned all the ways in which Americans might need their civil and human rights protected. They gave us a good head start, but there is definitely still more work to be done. So if Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) suggests a new political fruit I should forgo to move the civil and human rights of the LBGT community forward, I’ll listen to him or any other group working to enlarge the scope of Americans who can fully enjoy the rights due them by the Constitution of the United States.

In the meantime, I have an orange tree growing in my backyard and a grapevine in the front to help keep me regular no matter what civil rights politics takes off my plate.

grapes in my yard

grapes in my yard

orange tree in the back with resident wildlife

orange tree in the back with resident wildlife