I think I’ve been seeing fireworks on the Fourth of the July for as long as I’ve been alive–that’s 26 years. Like most children, they startled me when I was younger, but I’ve come to love the dancing lights and the thrashing thunder that follows every burst. As I watched the fireworks this year, behind a hotel in Cookeville, Tennessee, on my way home from my brother’s wedding in Texas, I began thinking of the daily freedoms I have because I’m a U.S. citizen: I can travel freely almost anywhere in the world, I can go to school and get a job doing anything I want, and for the past week and onward, I can marry anyone I please and have our marriage recognized throughout the entire country.
There is only man I want to marry, and his name is Harel, and it’s because I’m a U.S. citizen that the 1,600 miles between us can be overcome: It’s a privilege in the United States to have the right to sponsor our (future) spouses for immigration and citizenship, and despite all the time and money it takes for those few slips of paper that says he can be here legally and that we can (and will be) married, knowing this path is paved before us, waiting for us to take every step on this journey together, hand in hand, means the world to me and makes me thankful to be a part of our country.
But the truth is, with any amount of independence, comes an equal amount of interdependence: I could not travel if not for the airline pilots, flight attendants, and the laws/regulations that make air travel safe–and all those others that make driving across country possible in the first place. I could not go to school without a certain amount of financial aid, without teachers and mentors who have helped me realize my abilities and see my potential to keep going. And I could not marry today if not for the countless activists who have fought tirelessly for this right, if not for the allies the LGBT community has been blessed to have, if not for the Supreme Court’s forward-thinking ruling on July 26, 2015. We may each be free individually, but that freedom comes to light only when we come together as a community and build upon these privileges we’ve been granted.
Harel and I are students. We both plan to be teachers, him in English, me in math, and today neither profession is all that highly paid. Nothing will stop us from committing ourselves to each other and sharing all the bounties that life has to offer, but this path would be easier to follow with a few helping hands. We’re fundraising to cover the costs of Harel’s immigration to the US, and we would like to ask your support on this journey.
Visit GoFundMe.com/DarrenHarel to learn more or click below to make a donation.