While last week was a monumental one for marriage equality and its supporters, it was also quite eventful for our little family. A quick recap:
I was coming off a “theater high,” having performed the weekend prior in Xanadu with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. However, re-entry into real life was rather bumpy. I hadn’t been around for JJ’s nightly routine in almost a week, and he acquired a few new tricks in my absence: finding new (and unending) reasons to get of bed, coloring on walls, and a higher register in his screaming voice chief among them.
Our family dog baby girl was recovering from her third surgery in as many months — and she’s still not out of the woods.
Papa and I had our first date night in months. It was about as romantic as you’d expect between toddler parents (i.e. sharing stresses, trying to stay awake, drinking). Yet the real high point was me kneeling over the toilet at 4am, and then either parked on top of it or in bed for the next three days.
It wasn’t all screaming and sickness. An interview we’d done with NPR (not about gay marriage, but remote controls) aired on Morning Edition. While they used very little of what we recorded, and apparently I wasn’t miked well enough so can only be heard muttering in the background, it was great to hear Papa and JJ get some airtime!
Add to all that, ongoing struggles with money, work, eating/exercise habits, potty training, pacifier addiction, too much TV, not enough family time… It’s not surprising the Supreme Court hearings about Proposition 8 and DOMA snuck up on me.
I’m sure I’d gotten a dozen emails from various organizations I follow, and had even seen some chatter about it online. But with everything going on in my life, I was in a bit of a bubble… and not the cool Glinda the Good Witch kind.
So I was genuinely shocked when I logged onto Facebook late Tuesday morning and saw a sea of red — dozens and dozens of friends had replaced their profile photos with equal signs to show their support of same-sex marriage.
I was also genuinely moved. I not only felt accepted, but advocated for. And I felt a sense of community I’d never experienced on Facebook before. And it wasn’t just my LGBT friends — but a number of my heterosexual friends. It was having so many of them mixed in that made it feel more real, like more of a change had taken place.
As the day progressed, the numbers of red avatars grew. People (yours truly included) started creating their own versions, which ranged from the politically clever to the absurdly silly. Several friends who’d made it to the rallies started posting photos of the crowds. Various news sites and blogs started uploading recordings from the hearings. And by the second day of hearings, there were already stories about the profile photo phenomenon happening on Facebook. All told, nearly 3 million people changed their profile pics to some variation of the red and pink equal sign.
I want to acknowledge all those straight friends in particular: I felt and appreciated the love. It didn’t just make me feel equal, it made me feel like I was being carried around on your shoulders at the end of Rudy.
Now before I get too sappy (too late?), I need to answer the question posed in the title.
What are we really fighting for?
While the show of virtual support was wonderful, and indicates in a small way how things have shifted, that’s not enough in itself. And the court battles are not just so we can get married. Gays have been creating their own weddings (commitment ceremonies, civil unions, beach parties) for decades. The same goes for building our own families, whether it’s through biology, adoption, surrogacy or circumstance. We’ve also learned ways to circumvent the walls blocking us from healthcare benefits, visitation rights, inheritance issues and parenting restrictions, so that we can protect these self-made families the best we can. We’re an industrious bunch.
But being a family is hard, regardless of who has what parts. And legal marriage makes all the stuff I’ve described — both the personal stories and the general issues — a little bit easier to manage. So to answer my question: We’re fighting for all of it. For marriage, for equality, for our families, for our lives.
Because when one week finds you dealing with food poisoning, dog surgeries, remote controls, temper tantrums and crayon graffiti, you’ll take all the legal/societal/spiritual/financial/emotional help you can get.
An abridged version of this article also appears on The Good Men Project.