A few weeks ago I went ahead and clicked the link I was seeing again and again in my Facebook feed: Macklemore at the Grammys, where a good number of couples were married. Women and women, men and men, women and men. White and black, Asian and white, etc etc. Lots of combinations of beautiful people in love.
It made me cry.
It seems like change is cascading, rolling faster and faster down the hill. I see the easy words flowing out of other people’s mouths – it’s ‘no big deal’ to be gay. Equal rights are de facto. It doesn’t seem that way to me.
I remember being a child and hearing homophobic comments and abuse from family members. I remember my classmates playing a game called Smear the Queer. I remember crying so many nights in university about the hell of coming out to my own family, and the particularly cruel response I got. I remember a nurse during pregnancy refusing to recognize Suzy as my wife and referring to her as ‘your friend, or colleague, or whatever she is.’ These are not the distant past.
It feels like a BIG DEAL to me that straight people are stepping up to fight for equality. It’s not just a handful of marginalized minority people fighting, it’s becoming everyone’s fight. And I looked at my little girl and thought, ‘The world is different for you.’
It is. It is full of people who are accepting and loving. She is being raised with the opportunity to figure out who she is and be loved for that. She is less likely to face discrimination than the generation before her. She asked why I was crying.
I told her.
‘We know people can love whoever they love. But a long time ago, black people couldn’t marry white people. And not so long ago, a girl couldn’t marry a girl, and a boy couldn’t marry a boy. Some places are still like that. We know it’s wrong. People can love whoever they want to love and it is okay. White people can love black, girls can love girls, girls can love boys, people should just be with who they love.’
‘And lots of people, all the good, brave people, have fought for people to love and marry who they want to. They stood up, they said it wasn’t right or fair to not let people get married, and they changed the world.’
I looked her dead in the eye. ‘We can change the world. It is important to fight to change things, to make the world better.’
This has led to further and deeper discussions with both kids, who have been shocked to discover that some people didn’t/don’t think black and white people should get married. We’ve had lots of discussion about Suzy and me loving each other, about who they want to marry (M says me, bless him), about civil rights.
I hope our home is growing a culture where the kids learn that it is everyone’s responsibility to do what we can to make sure life is fair for all people, whether we share a skin colour, a religion, a love. That our children know we accept them from the get go – their gender, sexuality, career, or whatever else are things we celebrate. I want them to be fighters, to stand up to be counted – both in big battles and small. If another child is being picked on, if someone is hurt, we will endeavor to be their friends and champions.
Both kids have deep empathy for other people, questioning minds, critical thinking, open hearts. How my life has changed and been impacted when I think about family members one generation older than myself, and this new generation. Almost thirty one years separate me from my children, and what a thirty one years they have been. How far we still have to go, but how many people are willing to stand with us in love and pride.
I’d like to thank those people. I’d like to count my children among them.