On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States declared it unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the fundamental right of marriage. It was a long-awaited, historic decision that has been celebrated in rainbows of every size, shape, and hue in the days since. As a gay woman, I too celebrated. Justice! Equality! Acknowledgement! Acceptance! RELIEF. It is an incredible time to be alive and I can already picture what it will feel like to tell my grandchildren about that time long long ago when (if can you believe it) two girls weren’t allowed to get married (I know, crazy).
Through the tears, smiles, text messages to friends and family across the country, and Pride parades, there was always an asterisk on my celebrations.
Having lived my life as a gay woman, even having suffered at the hands of discrimination and hatred, I am still more afraid of raising black children than gay ones. In our country today, raising black children, especially a black man, is a scary responsibility.
On June 26th I raced home to share the good news with my children. We were excited and celebrated by going out to get some Ben & Jerry’s I Dough ice cream. As we happily ate our ice cream talking about the importance of the day, I looked into their faces and couldn’t help but feel the asterisk on my celebration growing.
Churches are burning. Children are being killed. Whole groups of people are stuck in cycles of poverty and denied access to the resources needed to succeed. We continue to use words like ghetto and thug. And in 2015, we are still discussing the Confederate flag.
Justice. Equality. Acknowledgement. Acceptance. Relief…
We thought we had achieved those things for racial minority groups years ago. Black Americans are intended to be treated equally under the law, just as gay Americans are now and yet those ideals of justice, equality, acknowledgment, acceptance, and relief remain illusive.
So, you’ll have to forgive me if my smile seems to have faded or my cheers aren’t quite as loud as everyone else’s. We have a long way to go before I can celebrate fully.