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On Being Gay This Week

I’ve been amazed at the wide range of reactions my friends and family have had to President Obama’s announcement this week.  I’ve heard and seen everything from “that dude’s an asshole” to rainbows and adulation.  I have mixed emotions myself but I can’t deny that one of those emotions is amazement that a sitting president said that he was down with gay marriage (as down as anyone can be, I suppose, who admits something under duress.)  I choose to believe that his statement implies that he is okay with gay folks in general which, on most days, is all I really want.  And frankly, it’s not the validation of national leadership I need, it’s awareness and acceptance.  Hell, today I’ll settle for tolerance.

This week’s controversies were good for was flushing out the people who spend time and energy affirming that it’s okay to decide I can’t have the same state and federal protections for my family as they can.  All the easier to cleanse my social media.  I’ve also seen several quotes that don’t take a side so much as state the obvious, “It’s never okay for the majority to decide the rights of the minority.”  Also, on a lighter note, “This is like saying my being on a diet means no one is allowed to eat doughnuts.”  This week’s controversies also generated excellent conversation (debate or otherwise) in the break room and over coffee.  Cool minds consider both sides of issues in conversation and I’ve felt enriched by my friends and collegues.  This is a great way to end the week.

Unfortunately, this week also brought more tears than I expected and I already had a shaky foundation.  I’m a sensitive individual (says…well, everyone.)  I just wrapped up an academic year’s worth of extremely hard and productive work, I’m days away from my period (more than you needed to know, I know) and occasionally my house smells like my mother-in-law (which is another post – probably another blog – entirely).  So, loose around the edges.  It’s no wonder that the photos in this link found me dabbing my eyes at work (Is there any worse place to tear up?  No, actually, I don’t think so.)

Here’s why:  I’ve always thought that during my lifetime I would see a sea change in the way the majority of Americans viewed my relationship, my orientation and my rights.  That there would be a watershed moment when voters and politicians and the lady across the street stopped looking at gayness through a religious lens.  That there would be a greater public awareness that people are killed in the United States simply for being gay (clubbed with bats, tied to fences and left for dead, ambushed on street corners, bullied to the point of suicide.)  That people would understand that just because there are no signs on the restroom door or above the restaurant or at the entrance to the park saying that gays aren’t welcome, that this is because we aren’t always visible at first glance and that, in many places, the minute I somehow identify myself, I can be asked to leave.  I thought I would see an end to this.  My tears were less about the link and more about the fear that I have been overly optimistic.  That I will never see these things.

You know, my own family completely loves and respects me and D and RR.  They do not draw a distinction between my rights and their own.  They don’t acknowledge that a battle is being waged (or pitifully not waged, depending on who you ask).  Although it’s possible that I’d be uncomfortable if one of them mentioned the presidential announcement to me, the that fact that they didn’t is part of what makes me wonder if it’s really possible that I won’t live to see this civil rights battle won.  Silence won’t be enough, will it?

I intend to get a lot of kissing in this weekend.  The only protester will be my daughter and she’s not old enough to picket.  Come hell or high water, at the very least we will have civil rights in my house.

This is not intended to open a political can of worms.  Before you hit that comment button, please consider that:
A) I like you and I don’t want that to change.
B) I already know that some of you think he’s a tool and some of you think he’s awesome, so let’s skip that part.
C) There is no opinion in this post about whether or not a church should be forced to perform a marriage.
D) Here’s the annual disclaimer:  Play nice.  Comments about my personality such as “Oh, you’re the epitome of brilliance!” and “Oh, you’re a virulent shrew!” don’t add anything to the conversation.  I don’t mind the compliments, of course, but it hurts my feelings when I think you’re being mean.  Keep it to yourself and I won’t block your comments – that means I don’t see them either so your meanness will be for naught.


5 Responses

  1. I’m trying to figure out what is the root fear that causes people to react so negatively to gay marriage. I’ve heard all the arguements and to me they just don’t add up. People generally get themselves worked up into a self-righteou panic when they think their livelihood, i.e. their money and possessions, are threatened. So if gay couples are allowed to be legally married and file joint income tax returns and get family health benefits, that will affect other people’s well being how? I don’t get it.

    • CNN ran a headline yesterday that said there were billions to be made from gay marriage (licenses, dresses, catering, lavish parties in celebration both of the marriage and the progress) and that it would actually boost the economy and bring jobs. Mostly, I was thrilled to see a major news outlet find a way to look at the issue in a way that hits home to people that isn’t about their church. Thanks for not feeling threatened. 😉

  2. We will live to see that day. Look at the poll numbers just over the last decade – for the first time they’re reflecting a majority of people in the country in favor of gay marriage. The reality is that if you polled in some states today, there’d still be a significant chunk of opposition to interracial marriage, DECADES after Loving vs. VA. Prejudice is tenacious but it doesn’t mean our society won’t progress despite those people.

    I agree it feels incredibly frustrating some days, and all too slow. I was hoping that this battle would be won before I have my own children, but now I am accepting that is unlikely. Still, when I look at the attitudes of the generation only a few years younger than us I feel certain it will happen.

  3. Oh, word. To all of it.

    On my more optimistic days, though, I think that maybe we are in the midst of a sea change, just not an overnight one. Considering how far we’ve come, and how quickly, really, it doesn’t look quite so bad. I mean, I’m not entirely certain, but I’m pretty sure my first girlfriend and I committed felonies, because we were both women fooling around together in Virginia. That’s not illegal anymore. (Not for a sudden enlightenment on Virginia’s part, but all the same.)

    I also find a couple of things encouraging: 1) That statistically speaking, the younger someone is, the more likely they are to support equality (equal marriage, non-discrimination, etc), so basically we just have to wait for the crusty old haters to die off. 2) We don’t actually have to wait for a lot of them to die, we just have to talk to them. There are a great many people who have shifted from anti to pro on the equality front, and very few who’ve gone the other way.

    A friend of mind shared this article the other day, and I found it fascinating:

    There are always going to be people who think we’re sinners who deserve to burn in hell and to live in fear till we get there. (I’m probably on their list for several reasons, honestly.) But there are fewer and fewer of them. It’s taking longer than it should, but most of the time I do feel like we’re making forward progress. And I hope that someday RR and Critter can tell their friends “My moms were married before it was legal”, and understand that their parents love each other, and them, enough to swim upstream.

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