Interesting timing, as I finished this letter before President Barack Obama made his historic declaration regarding same-sex marriage. Now, a declaration of support is a long way from enacting laws that provide rights, but just the same, it’s a huge step. The first, hopefully, of many. On to my letter…
This is not a break up letter, or a Dear John letter. You don’t leave the things you love that easily. But, when someone or something you love mistreats you, you stand up against it. You make your voice heard. You demand better.
You don’t leave. Lovers, fighters, Americans don’t divorce things that easily. You stay, you fight, and you make it work. It’s the American way. Isn’t it?
I’ve heard throughout the years, after numerous discriminating votes, abusive phrases like “if you don’t like it, leave it,” and “America has spoken.” In honest and real terms, those phrases mean “suck up the mistreatment, and accept the crumbs you receive.”
Is that what America really is? Is America really about sucking up “less than” treatment? The America I read about in history books and watched on film is a place envisioned to be a safe haven for the “others”. America is a place that a majority would never override the rights of the minority. That is America’s safe haven ideal. That’s what we should be.
But that’s not what we really have become. It’s not what we have been, throughout many grand failures. The horrendous missteps over generations, from racial discrimination to female discrimination; America’s track record isn’t as enlightened as we would like to think.
But the ideal, at the core of our beliefs, is that America is a place of inclusion rather than exclusion. For a place to really be inclusive it should be such to a diverse range of people, not just a select comfortable few; otherwise the inclusive verbiage just doesn’t fit the behavior.
I’m an American. I’m a woman. And I’m gay. I’m a gay American. I’m not sure if I call myself proud to be gay, as it’s just something I happen to be. I’m proud that I’m open and honest about being gay, that is for sure. And I’m happy to be gay. Being gay has led me to my wife. And it’s led me to being a more compassionate person who appreciates inclusion from others. I don’t overlook the important role that inclusion has in my life; and the role it plays in most lives. And I use it when I cultivate friendships with people of varying backgrounds and beliefs. Because of inclusive behavior, my life is richer in its totality.
I’m a good person. I care about people. And I not only care about others, I do things to make sure others know that I care about them. And that’s rare these days. These days, people spend more time trying to convey a message about themselves, rather than convey a concerning message towards someone else. It’s an epidemic. And unlike love between committed adults, any committed adults, the epidemic of “lacking concern for others” is a moral issue. Instead of isolating select love as a “moral crisis,” perhaps America can isolate the lack of love for others as the bigger concern.
But, I digress…
Back to you, America….
I’ve been with you since the day I was born; 1974, Southfield, Michigan. And let’s be clear from the start, I appreciate the relationship we have had for all of those nearly 38 years. I realize that as an American my life has come with advantages that others around the world could really only dream of having. I’ve been raised in a country that for most of my years has been a beacon to the rest of the world; and you can’t really underestimate how satisfying it feels to be admired for positive traits. America is a bit boastful, and has often had reasons to boast; charitable citizens, helpful to others around the world, wealth that has led to greater standards of life, and a true melting pot of religious, ethnic, and cultural ingredients. America the beautiful!
My Mom once told me that she thought I was one of the most patriotic people she knew. I’m not sure how she came to that determination, but I took it as a compliment, and still take it as such today. I am patriotic. I love my country. I love it in a way that you love a parent, or a child. We are tied, eternally, to our families. We see flaws in our families, and bicker with our families. We also strive for “better” with various family members. Family is one of the greatest rewards in life, and its relationships are also some of the toughest roads to travel. Family; it’s like love of country. It’s at the core of our beings and very central in our lives.
I love America.
I’m a gay American.
And I’m not leaving.
I’m standing here and demanding what I deserve; equal and fair treatment. I know, without hesitation, that history will stand on the side of fairness and equality.
Decades ago, people fought about racial injustice. Decades ago, people fought about inter-religious marriage, and inter-racial marriage. Most of these injustices were based on fear, coupled with selective and hypocritical religious judgment. Such judgment completely misses the boat on the separation of church and state; a corner stone to American society. But the judgment goes further than that. The judgment challenges the core of the American ideal; inclusion. The judgment allows a powerful majority to disperse unfair treatment to a powerless minority.
The judgment is not a gay issue, it’s an American issue. Americans should be livid. Americans should be appalled. All Americans, gay or not, should demand better.
For the life of me, I’ll never understand the fear and/or hatred towards gay people. But, the truth is, I don’t really need to understand it. People are allowed their own feelings and beliefs. What I don’t understand is how our country continues to do this dance with inequality, one minority group at a time. This argument, honestly, seems so “last century.” In a world of wars, of disease, of poverty, and hunger, are we really fighting about two adults committing to love one another? Are we really fighting about gay marriage? Seriously, America, come on….
I could share cliché thought after cliché thought, like: “if my gay marriage negatively affects your marriage than it says something about the quality of your marriage.” But, I won’t go there. That’s obvious. I could ask discriminating heterosexuals to tell me, exactly, why their relationship is superior to mine, but I won’t go there, either. That is nonsense. It’s crazy talk. We are having a nonsensical crazy family argument at the Thanksgiving Day table; this is that drunk holiday conversation that will only go in circles. It’s pure lunacy! And it’s time those on the side of equality starting calling it such; lunacy!
I’m blessed to have many heterosexual friends and family in my life that “get it.” At times I have thanked some of them for their inclusive nature and unbridled support. And often the response I have received has been “of course. “ And, “don’t thank me for being or doing or saying what is right.” It’s funny, as a minority, I am ultra “appreciative” of the people in my life that actually do what I would expect them to do; what I would do for them. But, the demand for equality takes more than gay people. That’s what I recognize and that is why I’m ultra-appreciative. It takes everyone. Gays can’t do it alone.
Back in the early days of the civil rights movement, it took more than African Americans to demand equality. It took many Americans to do what is expected of all Americans; stand for justice and stand for equality.
I use to say that we need to “fight” for equality. But that sounds combative and that sounds like one side wins and the other side loses. There should be no sides here. I prefer to demand equality. Like any relationship in my life, my relationship with my country has its challenges. But, I won’t hide from those challenges and I won’t divorce myself from this lifelong relationship. I’m demanding the treatment I deserve and I won’t stop demanding it until it’s received. And even then, like a nagging wife, I’ll continue to demand the treatment I know…I KNOW…I deserve! That everyone deserves….
With eternal love and hopefulness…