It's been a year since my now-deceased Dad woke me up with a phone call and said something like, "The World Trade Center just fell down."
I thought he was delusional but woke up my other half and turned on the TV anyhow. Like you, we spent the rest of the day glued to the tube. I had my laptop on the bed with me, using e-mail and Internet telephony to communicate with gay leaders and eyewitnesses in New York City.
I wrote a long story on gay reaction and gay angles. I was the first journalist to report that Fr. Mychal Judge was gay and some of my editors subjected me to more than the usual amount of fact-checking that week. Of course, this now has been reported by AP, The New York Times, and everyone else.
This week I went back to the NYC and D.C. interviewees from my original reports and, not without difficulty, coaxed some of them into sharing their thoughts and feelings one year later.
"As a gay man in New York," Ralph says, "what I have experienced in the last year is a lessening of the relative differences between gay and straight as we struggle with the differences the attacks have focused on West and non-West. The American flags that adorn literally every gay bar in town seem to mark this event as one that gay people were literally and openly inside of in a way that hadn't happened before. Because of the 'gay movement,' however you define that from the last 25 years and however disparagingly it's analyzed today, there were openly gay office and civic workers at the Trade Center, with friends and partners on the outside, and their disappearance that morning put us squarely inside the box."
My friend Clint and I and the people he works with have been fighting off some weird virus the past couple of weeks that has some unusual symptoms. Before my doctor assured me that it is a "thing" that is going around and that her entire family had caught it, Clint and I wondered out loud, "Maybe terrorists put something in San Diego's water." The fact that we were even 10 percent serious is a very post-9/11 reality.
I've been overseas three times since 9/11 and I think people were being a little nicer to Americans. That won't last but it was nice to be hated less than usual due to the accident of my country of birth. Many people in the rest of the world have a love/hate, fascination/repulsion relationship with America which, after 9/11, seemed to tip a tad more toward the love side for a while.
I am one of those people who expects more shoes to drop. Water could be poisoned, bridges could be blown up, radiation could get released, and there are a hundred other horrifying scenarios.
If anything, a year later, I think I detect a complacency among the public in general and among public officials. I vote Democratic except when I vote to the left of the Democrats -- for the Green Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, etc. I ain't no conservative. But I feel the government has not stopped terrorists from entering and freely moving about the United States.
If we want to prevent more 9/11s, Big Brother must take more interest in who is here, where they came from, what their background is, and what they're up to. This sucks. And it is necessary.