I’m not an American.
Same sex marriage has been legal, nationwide, in my country for close to ten years.
My wife and I have been married for nearly three years, and are surrounded by friends and family that love and support us.
But today’s landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court fills me with joy and hope and even tears.
(Why am I not in a crowded pub celebrating right now? Oh right, it’s not even 11am.)
How do I tell you about the hope and fear that swirled within me as I awaited news of this historic day?
How do I show you the surge of gratitude I feel, knowing I celebrate my marriage every day even though I did not fight for it?
How do I explain to you the pounding in my chest when the words “The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex” first appeared on my screen?
How do I describe the restlessness that rushes through me as I sit alone in my living room, unable to share this elation with anyone?
A few months ago, Kathryn and I stumbled across a pro-gay wedding celebration card in Home Outfitters, with two grooms on the front. We smiled, then our eyes watered, then she kissed my hand. We celebrated because we live somewhere where being gay doesn’t have to be a secret. And we lamented for those who do not.
Today represents a shift that has been long and slow and built on the back of suffering caused by hatred and fear and ignorance. Today represents the swell of people – families and religious leaders and friends and politicians – who are telling their gay loved ones “you are no different.” There is no reason to feel shame, to feel secretive. Companies were tripping over each other to show their support on social media as the news of the Supreme Court’s decision rolled out. Because of today, it won’t be so surprising to find a pro-gay wedding card amidst a sea of brides with their grooms.
Today I watched a promotional video in which a man who is about to marry his spouse said through tears “I remember [thinking] why me? What will I do? Will anyone love me? I’ll never get married.” The video brought me to tears because I once felt this too. Before I met Kathryn, I remember thinking “Okay, so I’m gay. I guess that means I’ll be alone for the rest of my life.” I didn’t know anyone who had married a same sex partner, I had barely seen gay relationships portrayed in the media. Now, for a kid who is ten or twenty or even fifty years old, coming to realize he or she is gay, there is a torrential river of media that says “Yes, you can find love. Yes, you can get married. Yes, you can have a family.”
I can’t just sit here and do nothing as this moment passes. I feel an inner pulling to mark this moment, to set a ceremonial cairn in this place, to light a candle.
Yes, I will light a candle, “to tell everyone,” as the poet Ben Okri wrote, “that history, though unjust, can yield wiser outcomes, and out of bloodiness can come love, that the future is yet unmade.”
Yes, I will light a candle.
I will remember the pain of all the people, whose names I will never know, who stood up for love at great cost so that it would be easier for me to stand here today.
I will remember the courage and honesty of four individuals, Kristen, Jay, Lorena, and Dan, whose own coming out stories directly influenced mine, and I will strive to live as courageously and honestly as I can.
I will envision a world where every beautiful person has the right to marry the one they love, and can share that love without fear.
And I will make room for love in my own heart where fear, ignorance, and even hatred, toward those who are different than me still lingers in dark corners.
“It gets better” has become an anthem against the oppression and marginalization of people based on their sexuality or gender identity. But it does not just get better. We make it better. We make it great.
There is a little more room for love in the world today.