I can hardly believe it

Imagine this.

It’s 1993. Amendment 2 had recently passed in Colorado, making it legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians. For Colorado gays and lesbians, there was a feeling in the air of hurt, betrayal, pride, and determination.

We went off to the 1993 March on Washington ready for action, for a witnessing of our experience. To find other folks from the LGBT community who could understand what it was like to live in a state where any passer by could potentially be an enemies. Will Perkins, Focus on the Family, Paul Cameron, and a steady diet of inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric were all part of our daily experience.

While we were at the march, my partner Kathy and I participated in a mass wedding. Troy Perry of the Metropolitan Community Church presided. While others, having planned ahead for this event, came in wedding dresses and tuxedos (genders mixed and matched in whichever, of course), I participated somewhat half-heartedly. This event seemed like a sham, play-acting what others took as a matter of course. Afterwards, during the speeches on how to make gay marriage legal, I turned to Kathy and said, “Not in my lifetime.”

Well–that was a big lesson for me in setting my sights too low. Look at what has happened–I can hardly believe it. Civil Unions recently passed in what was known in 1993 as “the hate state” of Colorado. The Supreme Court is actually discussing gay marriage, with some of the justices clearly impatient with the archaic nature of the question. Gay marriage has gone from a pie-in-the-sky dream to a done deal. OK, maybe not today, maybe not even in June, but there’s no question that it will eventually pass. The next generation is so clearly for it, to the point of the attitude of “what’s the big deal?” that it is inevitable. Suddenly this issue has done a 180, having once been a far-off, impossible dream, to its current status as a no-brainer civil rights issue.

I haven’t been directly involved with these changes. I’ve been behind the scenes, supporting gay and lesbian relationships, helping us create conscious community. So today I want to thank some of the people that have created the sea change of this last 20 years.

I want to thank:

The brave men and women who dealt with the AIDS crisis in such a way as to make a horrifying epidemic a reason to come out, to celebrate our sexuality, to step out of the shadows and into the light.

Ellen Degeneres, who single-handledly made the strange “lesbian” world into an everyday part of everyone’s life. And all the other celebrities who stepped into the spotlight knowing that their careers, their security, their place in the world would probably suffer.

The LGBT folks who spent hours, weeks, years, decades strategizing the legal steps to take our rights forward. Those who spent their money and time to be plaintiffs in these cases that have built to this point over time.

The attorneys who took on the challenge of climbing this impossible mountain.

Our allies of all sexual orientations, religions, ethnicities and ages who bravely spoke out, who connected with a population that was popular to shun. Who stuck their necks out because it was the right thing to do.

All of the lesbians, the gay men, the bisexuals, the transgendered folks, everyone else out there stepping into difficult choices because, for them, there was just no other way. Who have done the radical act of living regular lives of having kids and jobs and partners and homes, so that now, just about everyone personally knows someone who is gay or lesbian.

Kathy and I plan to have a Civil Union on May 1st, after 25 years of being together. I was reluctant (a pattern, I see) as I was going to wait until we got to be at the front of the bus, be married with the same rights as heterosexuals. I finally agreed with her that this was an important step, and that I wanted to be part of it. So finally, I want to thank my beloved partner, for stepping with me in to this incredible new world.

 

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