There were plenty surprises for the audience on Sunday's Grammy Awards. And, while the biggest surprise for me may have been falling in love with Taylor Swift (I now feel like I've broken up with Jake Gyllenhaal after hearing her hauntingly raw rendition of "All Too Well"), I think we can all agree that the true landmark moment was the performance of "Same Love" and marriage of 33 straight and gay couples -- despite my personal aversion to televised nuptials. (A YouTube post of the performance was viewed nearly 1 million times in less than 24 hours before being taken down by CBS for copyright violations.) Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Queen Latifah, and Madonna did the world proud. They reminded us that we are indeed living on the right side of history, as we embrace the notion of global citizenship -- regardless of race, religion, gender, and, yes, sexuality.
In most of my work, I seek to de-stigmatize the 'other' so that the notion of the other may one day cease to exist, and this epic display of love was a game changer in that effort. It was the ultimate 'It Gets Better' video for anyone who has ever felt marginalized and left on the sidelines of life -- and that's not a comment specifically on sexuality. If we let go of the biases that blind, each and every one of us can see ourselves represented in the diverse group assembled for the life-changing opportunity under discussion.
I don't write life-changing lightly.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have already done much for the LGBT community in particular by serving as straight allies -- a descriptor I usually loathe but understand the necessity of in a time of change, when the mainstream needs to validate the outsiders as they seek to integrate wholly into society. The fact of the matter is that the social impact of the song and performance would not have been as great had it been the proverbial choir preaching to the choir. But, with the producers of the Grammys, the two trailblazers took it one step further on Sunday with the strategic choice of first couple showcased exchanging vows -- a point that I haven't seen referenced in any other recap of the proceedings.
In what coincidentally turned out to be the same week that the Supreme Court in India upheld last month's reinstatement of a ban on homosexual relations, a gay gentleman of seemingly South Asian descent, dressed in a traditional vibrant turquoise wedding sherwani, married his white fiancé, outfitted in a coordinating turquoise bow tie.
It's not the double whammy of gay marriage and interracial marriage that makes the choice of couple noteworthy, although I assume that was enough to drive some socially conservative extremists to the edge of sanity. Rather, it served as a vivid, clear illustration that one does not need to abandon cultural heritage -- a huge part of identity -- in order to live an authentic, truthful life. That's a lesson worth learning, not merely for South Asians but for everyone on this earth, including us self-described progressive Americans.
Across cultures and continents, races and religions, taking the road less traveled is often accompanied by the fear of abandoning identity by those who begin the journey and judgment by those who preach in the name of tradition. The Grammys presented an image that quietly disqualified those fears and judgments, an image captured in what should be seen as the beautifully universal light of love.
Those total seven-plus minutes of air time were far more than a show of solidarity and support for the LGBT community. For those ready to accept it, the Grammys gifted a new lens through which to see the world. A new lens allows for a new perception. And, a new perception provides for a life changed. For that, I humbly publish this piece with thanks to the artists and producers responsible (and, of course, to Taylor Swift -- see above).