I dont think people understand why I'm so passionate about the politics of being gay sometimes. Sure everyone I know thinks being gay -- or any minority for that matter -- means your life is automatically a cause, but no one ever stops and asks if it's deeper than that. For some LGBTQI people I know it's about the intrinsic right to equality and personal freedom that comes with being a citizen of a developed nation. Some gay/lesbian friends (because let's not even joke anything being passed comes close to helping the trans community [and WE'RE OKAY WITH THAT!] yet and that's a fucking shame.) have their relationships that were affected by DOMA or some other law similar that affected their rights to serve in the military, adopt children or be recognized as their partner's family so they picked up the cause. Now, I totally am down with all of those. Yes, we are guaranteed equality, should be recognized in our relationships and should be able to serve openly if we are willing to die for our country, but my heart is bursting over DOMA because the little boy in me was made so cynical so long ago that I never allowed myself to imagine I'd see any of this in my lifetime.
I come from the South. The Deep South. I never try to hide that fact or play it down. I'm Southern. You can hear it in my accent, tell it from my colloquialisms. I was taught the fear God and say yes ma'am and hold doors for ladies. I love my heritage and the nicest people I've known in my life were "Southern by the grace of God" (no shit, people still say that). I have no issue with this. It's who I am and where I come from. It's my family and my friends and when you call us hicks it pissed me off cuz honey I've lived a little bit of everywhere in these Unites States and from Poughkeepsie, New York to Yelm, Washington there are "hicks" in every state. I'm probably better educated than some of the "Yankees" I know, to be honest so it's quite a rude generalization. But I digress.
Because there is such a conservative atmosphere where I come from, and since I still came up in the tale end before momentum for LGB rights had begun to advance so quickly, missing the current upswing by about 2 years, I didn't see any of the goodness in my teenage years. I was shunned by classmates, got gun threats in school for standing up for myself against hate speech, and when I was sexually abused by a classmate it went unnoticed because people just arent comfortable with such things. Then my family found out I was gay and I was set aside, quickly and with quite a bang. This was all part of the experience though. This was being gay, especially in the South. What else was I supposed to expect? And you know what, NONE OF IT surprised me. I can't remember honestly being shocked at one point during any of those events. I went through it all with a cool, hard knowledge that this was how my life was always going to be so if I just bit the bullet and survived then I could one day move somewhere more accepting and consider these things stepping stones to a better tomorrow.
Well, I didn't do that. I dated other Southern guys, always ones about as damaged, if not more damaged, than me. I let their closet and their issues hold my life stagnant because, again, this was the plight of the Southern homosexual who was self-loathing and only dated closet cases and men who wouldn't hold your hand in public because who'd wanna hold hands in public and have people think you're queer?! Not me, no way.
So I let it make me bitter. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. Sometimes we do things to help us survive, but sometimes we're just cynical. Some of my relationship issues stem from not wanting to be as desperate and clingy as my father, nor wanting to find my validation in my relationships with other men like my mother. It's not all being gay.
And I don't for one minute think that being gay isn't one of the most amazing parts of my life. It has made me resilient and a fucking fighter and a survivor and made me different and stronger.
It was the lack of a dream or for hope of that Happily Ever After that made me cynical. I tried not to dream. Who wants to get their hopes up. Then holy shit I moved to a state that legalized gay marriage... IN MY LIFETIME...and I'm only in my early 20s! WTF?! Is this real? That's a long way from hiding who I am so I don't get hung by my testicles in the woods to being able to walk into a courthouse and sign papers declaring me someone's husband in front of God and everyone in my State.
But then there's the couples who were still being discriminated against because of DOMA and I made that the next thing to make me cynical. Okay, so now I won't date, I won't try to find someone because with my luck I'd find a partner from another country and we'd end up star crossed lovers in the middle of a horrible immigration dispute where we're work for years and still lose everything. (my cynicism knows no bounds) Again, I dared not hope that even a semblance of full equality may exist. Because maybe if it did, those things I'd grown up hardwired, that my family had been hardwired with, would have cost me that family and a happy childhood for nothing.
Eh, so now I look at it a little less dramatically and see, HOLY SHIT...I've wasted so much time. I, like so many little Southern boys who grew up playing on dirt roads and learned to drive in their grandaddy's pasture never dared dream I'd ever have the ability to have a REAL, legal fairy tale wedding. I grew up in the age of rich gays running to Vermont for commitment ceremonies that were considered a joke from an episode of Will & Grace to the people sitting in the pews of the Tri-County Baptist Church where my family attended.
It's possible. For some reason I got lost in thinking that was so impossible to dream about while I'm well-known for believing other things are so incredibly possible that now I feel silly. Yeah, I have mommy issues and I've had shitty relationships, but who hasn't? It's like... this moment of clarity occurred as we drew nearer this court decision and I realized either way that I can have that dream wedding. No one is guaranteed the happy ever after, but it's a possibility. And maybe, just maybe it's time to stop being trapped under what being gay meant I was limited to when I was growing up where people didn't understand homosexuality and better than they understood why boys needed to pass 8th grade if they could play football better than anybody in the county.
So I apologize to anyone I brought down with my jaded behavior. It was really more out of fear in believing I could have something, that we all could have something this simple yet this big... but it's why I was always there fighting for it. I guess I'd just shored up my defenses for the life-long fight many other activists have had on this front and didn't stop to ready myself for the day it actually happened.
So yeah, this means alot to me. My heart is overjoyed, overwhelmed. I thank everyone who got out there and marched and fought. I think I will be in shock for a while, but I'll keep going. There's still much to be done. For the kids who are being bullied, for the trans woman who can't use the right bathroom, for the couple who got beat for kissing in the park, for the man who was raped and due to masculine culture was shamed out of reporting his attacker there's still so much to do. But I won't let that fear, that lack of hope, hold me back any more. So yes, this was a very important day for me.
It's a new day and we did it. And I've never been so proud. And hey, all you Southern boys out there, what do you want your prince charming to wear to your wedding? I'm thinking khakis, linen shirts and bare feet on a beach. (okay so there's a little part of me that still feels silly thinking it, but they call that social conditioning so sue me) I may never be comfortable holding hands in public. But it's one step at a time, huh?
Congrats to everyone. This was a win for America. And despite how sad I am for my family and how wrong they were about me and my "lifestyle", that they let something so trivial come between us, this was a win for ME and my heart and I never realized just how important it was until I broke down at the news this morning, and I have no shame in admitting it.
So thanks. Thankyou thankyou thankyou SCOTUS for the right decision. And thankyou America for being my home. It took a while, but we're getting it right.
Peace, Love & PRIDE