I woke up today to a Facebook feed full of posts about the Supreme Court decision that came down today, 5-4: state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional and marriage equality is now the law of the land (give or take a few states who’ll put up a pathetic fight for a while, of course).
One of my partners texted me “!!!!” and of course I knew exactly what she meant.
Especially considering some of the things I’ve been writing about recently (and many more that I haven’t mentioned), it affected me more than I expected. I teared up just reading the dry New York Times article, and then I cried at a YouTube ad that had just come out featuring queer folks coming out, and then I cried at Mary Lambert’s “She Keeps Me Warm.” And probably some other stuff.
Almost as quickly as the folks in my feed started sharing image macros and news stories (and, of course, the obligatory reminders that the fight isn’t over [which I understand but also frustrates me because when the fuck did I say I was done???]), I also saw a lot of gloating. “Can’t wait to see what the Republicans are gonna say about this!” “So about that pastor who threatened to set himself on fire if gay marriage happened…”
I’m not going to say that gloating is somehow wrong or bad. I’m just going to say that it puts a damper on what should be a gleefully happy day for me and I wish I could somehow avoid it.
First of all, honestly, the first thing I thought when I saw those posts wasn’t “LOL YOU SUCKERS HAHA,” but oh my god, I can get married. Right here, if I wanted to. I no longer have to choose where I live based on where I can have a family. My wife, if I have one someday, will never have to be alone in the hospital because I can’t come see her, or vice versa.
And I thought, they finally understand that this isn’t some pretend delusional version of a “real” love. This is a love as real as any other, not just two perverted adults playing house.
And I thought, now I don’t have to worry about writing up complicated legal contracts when I should be worrying about the color scheme and where to seat my best friend from high school.
And I had sadder thoughts, too, like “but my family still thinks it’s repulsive” and “but how are we going to fix all the other problems like transphobia and deportation and queer youth homelessness and violence and health disparities” and “but there are so few queer women out there I’ll probably never get married anyway.” So no, it’s not all rainbows.
But those sad thoughts didn’t bring me down the way the gloating did. Most of the gloating I saw was coming from straight cis people, and it really felt like they were just using this historic, incredible moment to take another shot at the Bad Out-Group and cement the status of the Good In-Group. “Haha, guess that pastor has to set himself on fire now!” I swear, you take one social psychology class and it turns you into an annoying cynic for life, but really.
It also felt extremely tone-deaf considering how much power churches, governments, and other institutions still have over queer/trans people despite this important ruling. Whatever laughable tantrums some of these conservative Christian leaders are going to have, guess what–they get to have the last laugh, because all around the country queer and trans people can still lose their jobs just because of who they are (and don’t kid yourself that anti-discrimination laws help much against this), and queer and trans youth still get sent to conversion therapy or kicked out of their homes, and trans people are still denied the healthcare they need, and queer women still face disgusting threats from men who want to “turn us straight,” and the President still gets to decide who he hears and who he doesn’t.
Unlike others (whose feelings are also valid), this doesn’t mean I don’t want to celebrate today. But it does mean that I’m very, very wary of the gloatings of straight people right now.
I feel differently when queer people gloat because I’m able to trust that they get all this. They live it too. For us, humor and ridicule can be a survival skill (though not one that generally feels all that good for me personally).
But straight people–of course your first thought wasn’t “finally finally finally I can have a family.” Y’all have had that right for millennia. (I acknowledge here that straight people with other marginalization have not always had that right, but I’m speaking generally.) You don’t even necessarily have to think about how close we might’ve been to an enormous setback.
So sure, gloat. I’ll stick with the things I personally find constructive: celebrating, and planning our next battles.