Over the past year I have gone through several boxes of tissues. It's not that I wake up each day crying, or that I watch emotional soap operas, or even that I wipe out on my bike regularly, though these things do, on occasion, happen. I've been going through tissues at an alarming rate because, over the past year, my life has been changing radically. It's not that I have had a shift in careers or major set backs, in fact, it's the opposite: Over the past year my humanity has been more affirmed.
You see, I'm gay. And in just the past year major historic events have been falling in my lap -- the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the legalization of same-sex marriage in my own state, Minnesota, the letters and phone calls of support from friends and family. All of this, to me, is personal.
On the evening before the Supreme Court's decision about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) I decided I would write my nephews a letter, and I decided I would post it to my Facebook. At 25, I am not partnered and I do not have children, but I do have four nephews. I am one of four uncles to these boys and I am the only one that is gay. The wonderful thing is that none of my nephews care that I am gay, they have not grown up with that prejudice. They have two loving parents who have been my advocates, and my nephews still think I am silly, fun, and lovable. (They haven't learned what the word fabulous means yet.)
I want to share my letter so that others may see through my eyes how to speak to children about this historic event. Here is my letter:
Dear Logan, Noah, Alexander, and Oliver:
For a long time now you have made me the happiest uncle. I never imagined that someday I would have four beautiful boys who run to give me hugs, make me laugh, and let me read them stories. You four are more beautiful than I could ever imagine.
Right now, on June 25th, you are too young to fully understand what it means to have an uncle who is gay. Right now, thankfully, you might still think girls have cooties -- don't worry, I do too.
I wanted to write the four of you a note to let you know what I am thinking about the big day tomorrow, so here goes.
This past year I have been able to do some things that are really exciting, and your mom and dad have been so supportive of me. I got to be at the Minnesota State capitol when the senate announced that they would make it okay for your uncle to marry another man; I got to write pieces for Minnesota Public Radio and The Huffington Post about what it means to be gay; I got to give a talk at Holden Village about what being outed felt like.
You see, there are some people in the world who think it's not okay for me to be me. There are people who use the Bible to try to hurt me and my friends, but don't worry, we're tough like you. (Okay, maybe not as tough as you Xander.)
Tomorrow a big court -- the biggest court in the land -- is going to decide to see if it's okay for me to get married. Isn't that weird? I think it's weird, too. I remember how much fun it was to be at your mom and dad's wedding, and I'm hoping we can have another big party like that for me.
You might not remember this when you're older, but each time I get to tuck you in I ask, "How much do I love you?" and you all tell me, "To the moon and back, Uncle Taylor!"
And I still love you to the moon and back. Whether you date boys or girls or both, I will still love you to the moon and back. I want the world for you.
Tomorrow my friends and I get to find out whether we can marry in all of the states in the country -- can you believe it, all the states in the country!!! -- or whether or not we have to move at a snail's pace to let me and my friends get married. (Yes, I think snails are gross, too.)
But no matter what, love carries the day. Love always wins. Just like I love you, just like your mom and dad love you. We all get to walk along and hope that everyone can openly say, "I love you" to the person they love.
Love -- Uncle Taylor
Today felt like a wonderful day to me. I finished dressing this morning and received a text from my friend telling me DOMA had been repealed. I thought she was joking. She wasn't. It felt like my birthday -- only better. You see, when you don't have full, equal rights, even getting a seat at the table of justice feels like an overwhelming gift. Today, I got a little bit bigger piece of the pie.
You see, when you're gay and you are in middle school, you can believe there might be something wrong with you. If you create art instead of play football, you might be mocked. If you stand out instead of fit in, it might become difficult to make friends. If you're a boy who plays the flute, you might be called a girl. This is, sadly, something almost every gay person can relate to.
But, each day, I feel that pain easing, I feel like the nation is becoming more whole. Part of this process is letting go of the anger and letting it fuel our creativity for justice. Like at the Minnesota capitol this year when a woman held a sign saying, "Three words to save the economy: Gay bridal registry." Or when I told my 87-year-old grandpa that I was gay (when I was told not to) and he said, "Taylor, the priests tell us it's wrong, but you're my grandson -- screw what the priests say! Oh, and try these pancakes, they're fantastic!"
Yes, we have a lot of work to do, and DOMA has not fully gone away; and, yes, the Supreme Court did not rule as widely as it could have, delaying full equal rights for all. But we are getting there. There are conversations happening every day, there are neighbors who realize that Peggy and Sue really are no different from them, and there are families that embrace their children no matter what.
So what does it feel like? It feels like a moment that I will look back and be able to tell my nephews, "Love carries the day; love always wins."