For the past several months there's been a kind-of-secret little place inside me where I nurtured the hope that Election Day would prove a massive victory for the country and our community. I didn't dare look at it often. It was a fragile hope and, besides, even many of us rational types have our theories about jinxes.
Then, on Election Night, the returns started coming in, those ubiquitous electoral maps rapidly coloring red and blue. Sooner than I'd dared hope, and notwithstanding those huge swatches of red washing across the nation's middle, enough turned blue to show where the presidential race was headed.
When I saw that blue, it wasn't so much political parties that came to mind. It was that the blue banner was being carried by the candidate who stood for the future, who stood for the idea that we are more than just the sum of our individual ambitions and desires, who stood for an America in which all people -- including, without equivocation, LGBT people -- can live with dignity and pride.
But the night held much, much more in store. Tammy Baldwin became the first out LGBT person elected to the United States Senate. What's sometimes called "the world's most exclusive club" will never be the same. Out members of Congress were returned to office -- and new ones elected.
While the national races dominated the TV, the small group of friends with whom I watched the returns all had our phones, iPads and/or laptops fired up, as well, mostly to track news about the four states with marriage-equality ballot measures. And what news! First, Maine, reporting as thumping a victory as we could have dreamed. That win alone would have forever marked 2012 as the year that we won marriage equality at the ballot box. After more than 30 losses in a row, that would have been sweet enough.
Then, soon after, Marylanders voted for marriage equality -- another ballot-box win. Later, it became clearer and clearer that the good people of Minnesota had turned back an attempt to amend the state constitution to permanently ban same-sex marriage. And now, today, the state of Washington makes it a four-for-four clean sweep.
That's the word that keeps coming to mind. Giant. Giant results, and giant efforts that brought those results about. Countless people -- LGBT and allies -- made the calls, knocked on the doors and wrote the checks to give us this amazing sweep, to bring us yet another step closer to that day when we are all truly equal and finally free.
I tend to shy away from triumphalism, and plenty of challenges remain ahead, but Tuesday's message is unmistakable: Our fight for equality has taken a very, very big turn. We here in the land of Prop 8 (may it, too, soon fall) know well the bitterness of defeat when our lives are judged to be lesser than the lives of others. And it is very, very sweet to be alive today, and to know that that secret little hope was a whole lot stronger than I'd dared believe.