Until an oppression is lifted, you never realize how much it’s been weighing you down. If all your life you’ve been told you are not as good as someone because you are gay – either literally or symbolically – if that’s all you’ve ever known, when the realization comes that you are as good, that you are equal… it’s a big deal. That’s what I’m going through now as New York State becomes the sixth state in the nation to make gay marriage legal.
It feels different when it’s your own rights that are being decided – and when the right decision is made, it feels a little overwhelming. The majority of people won’t ever know what that feels like (that’s why they’re the majority). But for the minority of us who have been denied certain basic human rights – to anyone for that matter who’s been hated or discriminated against for being different – being granted the acknowledgment that we are equal is a big thing. I hate to say that it validates us, because we have always been valid, but in a way that’s what it feels like.
It says we are human.
It says we are worthy.
It says we deserve our love.
As I sit here writing this, with tears once again welling up in my eyes, I am simultaneously touched, saddened, emboldened, and exhilarated that I get to live in this great state, in this great country – where so much is wrong, but where so much can be made right.
I have to admit, until we received it, I never realized how much it bothered me, and how much it worked to silence me. Last night, as we passed people on the way to the gay bars where we were going to celebrate, I walked proudly down the street. It used to be that I would cower a bit and hasten my pace, hoping they wouldn’t notice my white pants or flamboyant shirt. I used to keep my head down and avoid eye contact, remembering moments when someone would shout “fag” at me. Not tonight. I walked with head held high, daring someone to say it. Tonight I felt liberated.
How sad that it was that way, and I wish I’d had that same belief in myself for all these years, but I didn’t. Because no matter how well I carried myself, no matter how confidently I may have come across, internally I never really felt it. That’s what a society that treats you as less than equal has the power to do. It is soul-crushing – it is a stamping-out of one’s spirit, a trampling of one’s heart.
Over the years I put up many barriers and a lot of armor to deal with all my doubts and feelings of inadequacy – a wardrobe to impress, a wit to charm, a nonchalant arrogance and aloofness that was meant to read as ‘I don’t care what you think of me, I’m just as good as you’ but I never, ever truly believed it.
This morning, as the sun begins to peek out from behind a bank of clouds, I’m starting to believe.Back to Blog