Who would give a law to lovers? Love is unto itself a higher law. ~Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, A.D. 524
"We will keep fighting for love!!" declared Dan Choi to thunderous cheers at the Meet in the Middle rally for Gay Marriage in Fresno, CA. It was just four days after the CA Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8. I have great respect for Dan Choi, and I honor his courage for being willing to stand up as the voice for the eradication of DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell). I have great compassion for his recent experience being fired from the Army for coming out. I am also grateful that Barack Obama just signed a proclamation declaring June Gay Pride month. And, I fervently look forward to the day when his words of fierce advocacy for LGBT equality are met by fierce action.
Nonetheless, a more appropriate chant would have been, "We will keep fighting for equal rights and marriage!" Love is not something for which we can fight. Fortunately, love is not tangible. Love does not recognize gender. In all things love only recognizes itself. It cannot be given or taken away by government legislation. The government can obviously uphold myopic forces that are trying to keep marriage all to themselves. But even marriage can't provide love. If it could, wouldn't it help keep the 50% of first time marriages from ending in divorce?!? The government can recklessly uphold laws that would have a Westpoint grad and Arabic Translator like Dan Choi, who is willing to be redeployed to Iraq, fired for being himself. But, the government cannot give or take the freedom to love from anyone.
Let's face it, it was love itself that gave our LGBT ancestors at Stonewall on that fateful night in June, 1969 the courage to stand up fully in their authenticity. That night they resisted being arrested as they had been so many nights before, simply for gathering in public in the West Village of New York City. However, they were not fighting for love. They were demanding their right to gather. Their riots sounded an alarm against homophobic intolerance and oppression that has echoed through the past four decades.
I came out of the closet twenty years after the Stonewall Riots when I was 17. Not many teenagers were coming out of the closet then. It was 1989. Only a few years after Ronald Reagan avoided the words gay and AIDS. Thousands of gay men had to die before he took any action. It was a time when ACT UP was screaming for AIDS treatment even though they had not yet been given a voice. It was a time when well known performance artists like Tim Miller, Karen Finley and Holly Hughes had to go to court to defend their gay, homo-erotic work to the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts). It was a time when legal protection for LGBT people was rarer than it is today.
In this political climate it would have been easy to hate myself, even take my own life as too many young LGBT people still do. However, my inner experience of unconditional love was greater than my internalized homophobia. That inspired me to embrace my personal truth and uniqueness even before I knew I was gay. I believe that many of my lgbt brothers and sisters would also say that it is self love that empowers our community to collectively remain steadfast in our truth.
This gay pride let us remember the example set by our LGBT ancestors 40 years ago. Let us remember it is the love that lives inside of us that compels our full self expression. We can love ourselves AND our partners, regardless of the rhetoric espoused by the CA State Supreme Court, NOM, Protect Marriage, US Military, or Religious Fundamentalists.
My gay and straight brothers and sisters, this Pride let us celebrate the light that shines on humanity when we allow our greatest truth and our greatest love to flow freely. Therein lies the source that ignites the strength to declare, "Our undying freedom to choose love can never be taken from us. That is what empowers us to persevere on the journey to full equality!"
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