This post is part of my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.
It’s raining today. The sky was overcast all morning as I nurtured a throbbing hangover. Last night was my first gay wedding. Well, it wasn’t my wedding, but of all the weddings I’ve been to, this was the first same-sex affair. It was a delight. The grooms hosted an amazing party, with delicious cupcakes and a well-stocked bar at a local staple of the “gay district” in Milwaukee, and two local drag queens performed. It was beautiful.
It was, in a word, progress.
There’s a reason why this was my first gay wedding: Up until a few years ago, same-sex marriage was still illegal in most of the country. But through advocacy and activism, through raising our shared voices and not just waiting for legislators to give equality, but facing the courts and demanding it, this battle was won.
But this battle, big as it was, is just a single front in a much larger, ongoing war.
Last week President Trump visited Milwaukee. In class that morning, one student said, “He’s not my president.” The timing wasn’t right to go into the nuances of that statement, to correct the fallacy that blindly believes saying “He’s not my president” excuses us of his wrongdoings (when we, the collective voting citizenry, put him there) but merely excuses his ignoring us, so my response to her was subtler.
“Whether we like him or not, he’s our president, and we should respect that.”
I refused to get religious. In fact, “refuse” is the wrong word: I keep my faith wrapped around my neck but not gurgling through my vocal cords, so I never genuinely talk about religion with my students. Perhaps, this time, I should have.
I have a backlog of posts waiting to be published. Many of them talk about race, and maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to share them. I’ve fallen under fear–the fear of losing social capital, the fear of saying the wrong thing, the fear of looking ignorant, the fear of admitting my own faults, the fear of alienating the people I can learn from.
You’ve probably heard about the Grammy’s mass wedding to the tune of “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and if your Facebook feed is anything like mine, it hasn’t stopped exploding in controversy since Sunday. If your Facebook isn’t like mine, the arguments are twofold: First, a mass wedding turns marriage into a gimmick, and second, why is a straight, cisgender white male suddenly the face of the LGBT movement?
The performance was moving, I’ll admit, but I agree with the first point: No matter the context–whether the Grammy’s or a Tel Aviv Pride Parade–I think mass, publicized weddings trivialize the significance of an individual couple being bound to each other. But I’m a romantic, what else would I think? Either way, I don’t particular mind the mass wedding–it happened, it was celebrated, and for the people there, what an amazing experience–and can you think of all the stories they now have to share!
So the real conversation is about Macklemore. About an ally of the LGBT community who, by definition of being an ally, is actually not one of us. And that’s problematic.
I had a dream. I had a dream so vivid and shocking it tore me from sleep and threw me so hard into reality I found myself breathless in my own bed. I had a dream so offensive I’m still not convinced I want to share it publicly.
But it bothered me. It bothered me deeply, and I need to share it with someone.