My wife and I were driving to a meeting when we heard news of the SCOTUS ruling this past Friday. We both started crying, and we were both surprised that we were crying. Part of me had been anticipating the outcome, and the other part had tuned it out. There were so many victories and so many defeats throughout this journey, it was hard to be emotionally invested when the blows could be so crushing.
We weren't talking about our favorite politician winning or losing an election, or even budgetary decisions that were imminently troubling...people were voting on our love, on our relationships, on our viability as humans. I can think of little more personal than my decision to marry the person I love, and yet strangers were saying I couldn't, my whole life.
But it wasn't just strangers. It was family members, classmates, people I went to church with my whole life - all saying no to me. My love was less than. I was less than. I came out young, and I withdrew from the whole world I was raised in. It hurt profoundly, and it changed me forever. To feel as though you are cast out of the world you were cradled and raised in, is a death of sorts - a death of innocence, belonging and identity.
In the cold years of the 90's, I fought for equal rights and forged new relationships that affirmed me. Still I longed for the acceptance of my tribe. I didn't mind so much that we needed to change the hearts and minds of the rest of the world, but I just wanted those who knew me to support me. When that failed to happen again and again, pieces of me continued to chip away.
I grew into a person who cared less and less what people thought of me, and that was empowering. However, I didn't arrive there due to self-actualization, it was rejection that forced me into that space. For two decades, I blocked out the world that judged me.
Friday, when I logged onto Facebook and saw the groundswell of support from leagues of straight allies, it brought me to tears over and over. I was completely unaware that in my depths, I was still longing for affirmation and acceptance. Every straight ally who changed a profile picture to the rainbow filter, or posted a message of support made my heart grow and my eyes tear. The few messages of support I saw from classmates from the school that taught me I was less than, meant more than anything. Those messages reached the 20 year old me, who wanted to feel the love she had felt her whole young life - the love that seemed to disappear in an instant. The youngest, most fragile and fractured version of myself began to heal.
In just 20 years, I've seen my sexuality change in public opinion from leper to fashionable. For me, it's always just been who I was. To those of you have been there all along, and also to those who have caught up, evolved, and had the courage to stand up even today - I thank you.
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