You’re bound to have mixed feelings about this emotional, monumental day. Clearly, you’re grateful for the support – not just today but over the past decades from ‘straight but not narrow’ friends, family and colleagues. Obviously it’s overwhelming, the sense of accomplishment, of pride, of relief. Also, a feeling that somehow you were on the right side of history for so long that history itself was forced to finally sit up and acknowledge it.
All of the LGBT engagement announcements announced on social media today, all of the joyful links to articles about the ruling, all the rainbow profile photos – it’s been intense. You find yourself looking at a photo of people kissing and announcing their long overdue engagement, and suddenly you’re welling up. Tears of joy spilling out from behind your eyelids, you think to yourself how absolutely grateful you are. How happy you are to have been able to witness this – the largest civil rights watershed in decades. How lucky. What an awesome, humbling gift – just to be alive on a day like today.
However, your next set of tears is just a tiny bit bitter. You think, sure, but the spirit of what they’re saying is just this: Congrats, you can no longer be considered a second class citizen – at least strictly in the eyes of the legal system. Obviously people will continue to quietly judge you, be icked out by what you are, teach their children that you’re evil just for being born. You think about the decades you spent in your youth. The fistfights. The bullying. The friends you’ve lost along the way, before HIV medicine got better research and funding, and you spend the day vacillating between gratitude, joy, and darker thoughts.
You run into a gay friend at the market. He runs up, hugs you, and says, what a great leap forward for gay people. You say, don’t confuse a leap forward for no longer being pushed under. You see his face fall. You make a joke. You both laugh it off. You both have a right to your day.
You feel guilty for feeling bitter. You remind yourself – you can feel bitter for a moment, but if you allow yourself to wallow in that bitterness, then in some ways the bigots win. And so you focus on the joy. You turn toward the light. And every so often a little of the dark creeps in and you say to yourself, that’s fine. That’s okay too.
On this day, of all days, you’re allowed to feel however you feel.
You’re allowed to feel overwhelmed.
You’re allowed to be exhausted.
And tomorrow, you’re not going to allow yourself to be bitter.
Unless, you know, you can make it sound funny.