in 1997, i found myself
at my first philly pride event when a tall handsome and bearded white
man approached me with a pen and clipboard. i remember rolling my eyes; i didn’t
want to sign another petition for some cause that did not directly impact my
life as teen. i was polite though and entertained him by letting him give me
his spiel about gay marriage, which is what it was called in the 90’s. when he
was done, i immediately responded with, “well, i don’t believe in
marriage”. he didn’t flinch. he nodded his head and replied, “well do
you believe in choice?” i paused then signed the petition. of course i
believe in choice, i did then i do now. it was that one interaction however
that would challenge me to explore my thoughts and beliefs about marriage. it
was that moment, with that handsome, bearded white man i asked myself, were my
beliefs independently mine or those influenced by systematic homophobia?
growing up no one ever directly told me i would never be “allowed” to get married. i assumed by just existing and breathing that the kind of love i dreamt about could only be expressed through sharing monthly utility bills and other such grown up type responsibilities. i unconsciously surrendered to that notion. loving myself and loving another brown man was political enough for me and my mother, who up until her last breath, taught me, told me and reminded me that my kind of love always mattered. so marriage was not something i reached for.
twenty years later, on june 26th, 2015, the supreme court of the united states of america ruled that i now have the right to marry. this is a historically huge step forward for the community i have identified with since childhood. this is worth celebrating and we should, i will, i am. young queer kids can now grow up dreaming of expressing their love and commitment to other queers the same way my straight peers can. no longer will law stop this life altering expression of love. this ruling will serve as yet another reminder of our existence in this society. how we love and who we love matters because we are citizens of this country and deserve equal rights.
as i celebrate this historic ruling, and I DO because it now provides my son an other youth with new possibilities of what love can do. however, i caution myself with the words of gran varòn orlando gonzalez, “… if we have money to paint rainbows on cross walks, then we can certainly find money to house queer youth who sleep on those crosswalks.” i would add, “the will”, to house all the black and brown queer youth who sleep on those crosswalks. the mainstream lgbtq civil rights community must do more with regards to lgbtq communities who continue to be crushed by systematic oppression. some of us do not have the luxury of celebrating this historic moment because they are being held in immigrant detention centers. some of us are not celebrating because we’re worrying about we’re to sleep on the night of such a monumental decision by the supreme court of the united states of america; and some of us will never be welcomed to celebratory parties because of the shade of their skin and/or their gender expression.
all those who worked so tirelessly for a chance at being recognized by our government through the institution of marriage must now prove black lives matter, trans lives matter, poz lives matter, all lgbtq lives matter.
we have not reached the end of the rainbow, not yet, but it still shines, stands and glimmers with hope.
louie a. ortiz-fonseca