On Friday, in a five to four vote, the Supreme Court of the United States made same-sex marriages legal in all fifty states. While it took decades to arrive at this point in time (one could even argue the entire history of the human race), it feels like reality has changed overnight. Never did I dare to dream this new reality would come to be in my lifetime and yet, here we are.
The generations behind me will have an easier time adjusting. Honestly, I look to them to know what to expect and how to act. As a gay man, I have lived my life as if I had a kind of disability. Depending on my surroundings, I hid the fact that I was gay.
I have never considered myself an activist. When I came to terms with my sexuality and voluntarily surrender my credentials as a pastor I did so out of concern for my children. When I traveled with my husband to Asheville, North Carolina to get married, I did it only for personal reasons.
For fifteen years, I have never kissed my partner/husband in public. I haven’t hugged him or held his hand in a park, restaurant, or grocery store. That kind of guardedness has to bleed over until it becomes the expected and normal thing to do. Doing otherwise starts to feel too bold, too in your face, too shameful.
This past week I was on a trip for work in Orlando. Some kind of foresight was at work in both Frank and me, and he decided at the last minute to fly down and join me. We did not want to be apart if the court ruled. We were at breakfast at 10 am on Monday, repeatedly refreshing our SCOTUSblog twitter feed in anticipation of the news. My phone rang just as I read “Same-sex is a right!” Even then I didn’t understand; I couldn’t believe this was it. It took my sister who was calling to say it had happened for me to realize it. I dropped the phone and walked around the table, crying, to hug and kiss my husband. She told me later that she heard a waitress asking if I was alright. I didn’t hear the waitress. I was shaking with sobs. Eventually my sister hung up.
I spent what time I could the rest of the day watching Facebook as profile picture after profile picture turned rainbow colored. The White House lit up with a rainbow. The bridge in Clarksville, Tennessee, close to my hometown, changed its lights. I felt completely overwhelmed. I still do.
Frank and I had the same flight out of Orlando. At the airport, I realized that while everything had changed, we had not changed. I didn’t touch him during the trip home. I didn’t hug him or hold his hand. As we walked around and waited to board our plane, I even thought about it. Old habits die hard.
It’s time for me to claim my power. Others have done it for me long enough. I am only as disabled as I allow myself to be. I am not perfect, but I am perfectly gay. And there is nothing at all wrong with that.
I’m going to watch for Frank to get home from work this evening, and I’m going to meet him in the driveway and give him a hug and a full-on kiss on the mouth. If he doesn’t read this at work before he gets here, he’ll think someone died or something. He’ll be right. Something has died. And something amazing has been born.