On the morning of November 5th, 2008, the day after the historic election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, I was performing in a highschool in Palatka, Florida. The students, approximately 1/3 of whom in this particular district were African American, were palpably stoked. Many of them wore bootleg Obama t-shirts featuring images not just of the President Elect, but of his whole beautiful family. I started out my program by asking, "Does anyone know who won yesterday's presidential election?" The students erupted into a chant of "O-bam-a! O-bam-a!" that made the aging media center feel more like a football stadium.
One would think that spending a day surrounded by so much pride and exuberance would be the ultimate spiritual jumpstart; that I packed up my gear that afternoon and floated back to St. Petersburg on a cloud of contentment knowing that the platitudes I've spent my life singing are true, that "the times they are a'changin.'" Unfortunately, that was not the case. That day, which was such an unblemished triumph of justice and hope over prejudice and fear to all those young people, to me was a painful reminder that a well funded and well organized segment of my state's and country's body politic does not think me or other gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people like me their equal. November 5, 2008 taught me that in America a black man can (finally) take the Presidential Oath of Office, but a gay man or woman can't even exchange a marriage vow.
As I drove back home that afternoon, I scribbled a line on a Dunkin' Doughnuts napkin: "I'm gonna love you, no matter what they say." Months later, I found the napkin and decided to finish the song.