It has been a while since my last post, and while I have a lot to write about related to my recent medical experiences, today is a historic day that I want to embrace. Today the Supreme Court released a landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States!!!
I remember almost 2 years ago as I traveled through Taipei to Indonesia to begin my journey abroad. The moment I landed on foreign soil, I rushed to the internet terminal to see whether a decision had been reached on Prop8 and DOMA. I remember reading the great news and embracing my new friend, and now basically adopted older sister, Tamara. While a sweeping decision had not been reached, progress towards greater equality in the United States had been made. It was an odd moment, one filled with mixed emotions. As my rights expanded back home, I was moving to a country and culture where these same rights were significantly restricted.
Over my time abroad in Indonesia, it seemed like every week marriage equality was expanding throughout the United States. I felt joy, but also a huge disconnect as I navigated living in a culture where being gay is heavily stigmatized. I began to recognize my immense privilege as my rights expanded while those of my Indonesian friends continued to be limited. Living abroad made me appreciate the privilege I have as a white cis-gender American, but also taught me a valuable lesson that legality does not always equate to equality.
Don’t get me wrong, I am ecstatic over the Supreme Court’s ruling today. I am overwhelmed by how much the social landscape has shifted in the U.S. over such a relatively short amount of time. I am also grateful to all of the advocates over the decades who have fought so hard for my and future generations to have greater equality. But I also realize that so many people throughout the world live in a system and culture where their rights are restricted simply because of who they are. I also know that while same-sex marriage is a huge step in the right direction in the United States, it is only a step, and not actually full equality. Issues of discrimination, particularly towards LGBTQ people of color, are pervasive throughout the country.
Why am I writing all of this on my blog, in such a public format? Many people know that I’m gay, but many are also not aware because I have never felt the need to actively come out to every person I know. I did not think I would make it so public through a format like this, but today is a day I’ll remember forever, and hope to tell my kids about. I have written several times on my blog how throughout my recent medical challenges, being vulnerable and embracing authenticity has not only been so relieving, but has been one of the most helpful ways for me to move forward. Through my experience with cancer I have realized the fragility of life, and thus how important it is to live true to myself. The authenticity though that I have been able to communicate through this blog and live in my day to day life is an immense privilege.
So many people throughout the world, (…and even with today’s Supreme Court decision), so many people throughout the United States, do not have the ability to fully embrace their authentic selves. That is why I feel the need to write this. I believe my privilege comes with a responsibility to embrace my own identity as well as advocate for those who cannot. The sad reality is that I have this privilege simply because of where I was born. One of the greatest challenges facing humanity is the fact that the circumstance someone is born into is often a determinant of their equality and access to opportunity. As I will write in a future post, this does not only relate to identity and social acceptance, but is pervasive throughout many issues, especially access to healthcare.
So I am going to celebrate marriage equality in the U.S. tonight and dance off the immense joy that I feel. But at the same time, I am going to think about all of my friends and millions throughout the world, and in parts of the U.S., who do not yet get to experience this same joy.
The legality of same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an amazing, hard fought-for achievement, and is one worth celebrating. Love has won today, but still not for all…It is important to recognize that the movement for equality does not end here, but must continue to move forward not only in the U.S., but throughout the world.