Today we celebrate the one year anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision declaring that state laws banning marriage between same-sex couples were unconstitutional. I almost couldn't sleep the night before, and the first thing I saw when I woke up that morning was their decision. Throughout the day I watched as friends got married – after being together for years. States resisted, Texas among them. The Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, issues an opinion and a notice to all of the county clerks in Texas telling them that they did not have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if it went against their religion. In Kentucky, one county clerk chose to go to jail rather than issue licenses, catching the world's attention, which I suspect is what she had in mind. But, in the end, the states and counties comply.
This changed everything, even though it didn't particularly change much for me personally. I am still not married. The only thing that it changed is that I could legally be married, but I'm not. Whereas before, it simply wasn't an option.
But, Adelaide's Lament aside, it makes me think about things like Torch Song Trilogy in which Arnold says in a soliloquy that if the Equal Rights Amendment passed, he and his kind (drag queens) were done with. As far as I know there are still drag shows, but there is something different. Perhaps it was already different when the decision came down. A few years back President Obama revoked the 'Don't Ask / Don't Tell' rule, which was all that President Clinton was able to accomplish toward allowing gays in the military. (I truly believe that he wanted more, but this sort of change takes time.) What I remember about Obama's move was how devoid it was of fanfare. A friend of mine at a family party mentioned it and I didn't believe her at first. But, it was true. It just seemed so anticlimactic after all that people had gone through. Just a change, and on we go with our business. My cousin informed me that quite a bit of rules and regulations had to be rewritten, but so be it.
Today's young gay adults will have it easier than we did when I graduated high school. But, there is a price to everything. That's not to say that one Supreme Court decision can eradicate bullying. That still goes on. We are still human beings and that kind of behavior will always be a part of us, just like love and lust and the rest of the human palate. Even the bullying, though, isn't enough to maintain the counter culture status that we had when I was learning about myself. At the job I had when I graduated high school, I was far too afraid (with reason) to be out. NOBODY was actually "out". (I wonder how many millennials know why we use the word 'out'.) It was more or less a don't ask / don't tell situation. Later, when I began working at the bookstore – on my first day, even – two guys asked me, "You are gay, right?" I was a little shaken, but it was kind of nice. They meant no harm. They may as well have been asking me if I was Hispanic. They just wanted to get to know me.
What if the ugly duckling had washed the dirt off his downy feathers and gone back to being a regular duck? What we went through is so much a part of who we are.* The struggle built (or broke) character. It's cliche to say that today's youth don't appreciate what they have. Some cliches are true. If asked, I would say that no, I wouldn't want anybody to have to grow up in the hostile atmosphere I did. I suppose that what I am saying is that at this point, I wouldn't change it for myself. I've finally gotten to where I kinda like me and my sense of humor. And, the way I grew up – that same hostile environment – is very much a part of who I am.
The air of mystery that was my twenties has pretty much been blown away by the winds of change. So, boys in high school can have boyfriends. (I do not know if this is actually happening, but if it isn't, it isn't far away.) The oblique looks, the waiting, the wondering, the excitement... *poof*. Gone. That's the price for being mainstream. Frankly, though, computers, the internet and mobile devices had washed a lot of that away already, but that is another gripe session for another time.
So, on we go with our lives. There was, indeed, quite a bit of fanfare on this day a year ago. That has died down. The divorce rate among same-sex couples seems to be the same as with opposite-sex couples. This is according to a couple of online sources, including an article by The Wall Street Journal. We're fighting over whether a bakery can refuse service to same-sex weddings, but I, for one, would never give my money to a business or person like that anyway. I go to work and pay bills. I have left the intrigue of dating and night clubs behind. I feel a little bit mainstream, a feeling that a part of me is resisting tooth and nail. So, I write and paint and let that part of me express himself. And, I wonder how it's going to be for a generation of people who never knew what a closet was.
Until we meet again I remain,
* I will grant you that I, for one, could have focused on other things as well – a college education, for instance. There are gays who have college education and who are very successful in the business world. My older brother is one of them, though he works for a nonprofit, so I don't know if you would technically call that the business world. I was a little too focused on figuring out who I was to bother to actually make something of myself, until recently.↩