(LOL. Love me some Notorious RBG!)
So, naturally, there were tears and laughs and beverages and about a billion Likes over at The Facebooks and two visits to the conveniently arranged-for-within-9-hours-of-the-SCOTUS-announcement Pride Festival downtown where this awesome picture was taken of me and Cheryl:
Ha ha ha ha ha! Those poor hellfire and brimstone Bible thumpers! Cheryl and I had to wait our turn to have our picture taken in front of them while some dude in tights and roller skates and huge pink wings kept skating by them and blowing them dramatic kisses. Finally the two guys (yes, there were only 2 protesters for the thousands at the Pride event) got super-frustrated and stomped away in a major sanctimonious huff.
Anyway, Friday, June 26, was indeed a momentous day. I can honestly say that I would not have believed that in my lifetime I would see the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. I still have a pretty vivid memory of sitting in a basement room at the student center at the University of South Carolina (Go Cocks!) with about 8 other students in 1981 as everyone self-consciously formed the first Gay Students’ Union organization. No one really knew what to say or do, but I recall that we agreed that no one wanted a picture of the group in the yearbook because, you know, we were gay in South Carolina in 1981. Two of the students were majoring in education, and they worried that they’d never get teaching jobs if anyone saw that picture. What with it being commonly accepted back then that homos preyed on teenagers. Good times.
Flash-forward 34 years, and I think most teenagers would totally be all LOLZ about the idea of hiding in a basement to talk about being gay. In fact, the above picture of me and Cheryl was taken by one of the teenage girls I coach who was there with another girl I used to coach who’s a college sophomore now. They were both covered in flags and buttons and seemed entirely void of any shred of self-consciousness. They waved their arms around at the thousands of people, the endless rainbow stuff, the music, the day, and said, “Isn’t this awesome!?” Indeed.
As Obama said in his speech, the SCOTUS decision came down like a lightning bolt. To me, and many other older gay people, the entire embracing (sort of) of Gay World has come in a kind of 0 to 90 dazzling and baffling rush of acceptance by Straight America that barely 10 years ago was like, “Um, gays marrying? Seriously? WTF?” and now is all decked out in equality shirts and slamming rainbow jello shots while doing some major foot-tapping to vintage Sylvester at the Pride Fest.
I’ll admit that it has all felt a touch bandwagon-y to me. But I’m all for the Bandwagon Effect if it helps bring about change. However, I’m not naïve enough to think that so many hearts and minds have been really changed due to new laws and a major groundswell in the popularity of supporting gay marriage. I mean, discriminatory feelings and inclinations don’t just *poof* overnight or even over decades. I think we all witnessed that fact in Charleston last week, Baltimore before, NYC, Ferguson, and on and on. Anyway. Not to be Debbie Downer. I’d prefer to think of it as Regina Reality. (Lame.)
And let’s face it—marriage is a glamorous, food-filled, big dress, tears and flowers and champagne extravaganza. Who doesn’t get a little amped about supporting that? However (and I think I brought this up in a blog post eons ago), the fact remains that there are still NO anti-discriminatory laws on the books for gays and lesbians in (are you sitting down?) 28 motherfucking states! That’s right folks—in more than half of the United States it is still technically legal to deny employment, housing, or even a Big Mac to homos. Naturally, that kind of behavior is no longer popular, but it’s legal.
Why? I have no idea, but changing anti-discrimination language in state laws is so *YAWN* compared to Weddings! that I think most people can’t be bothered to think about something so tedious. Meanwhile, everyone is totes aghast when Joe Blow in Indiana won’t serve pizza to gay people. Breaking News: it’s legal for Mr. Blow to do that. In fact, he could fire one of his pizza peons for being gay. Same thing in Chicago or Philadelphia or Key West. Or several thousand other places.
Still, I’m pretty darned happy that one year after getting married, I can finally wake up married in my own house. It has been no picnic living in one of “those” 13 states.
And yet, I love living in the South. It isn’t always easy, but it is most definitely always worth it. I have friends who mock the South as being full of lard-brained morons who drink Crisco and burn crosses. When the Bible thumpers down here threatened to light themselves on fire if gay marriage passed, some of these liberal thank-god-I-don’t-live-down-there friends lumped The South into one big pile of idiocy and stereotyped everyone, judging left and right. Irony much? All I can say is that in spite of its faults, I’ve always found that the South often has an unparalleled sense of grace and humanness that is both surprising and unexpected to outsiders. Again, see Charleston.
Anyway, now I’m exhausted. Peace, everyone. I’m fucking married, bitches.