You’re absolutely right, Dori. And that is part of the problem. My Thai masseuse is a lesbian, and we have long, deep discussions about these things. Just because marriage is legitimizied, being “different” isn’t. Most especially under this Administration.
The other day at my gym I was having a long conversation with a woman that I see there regularly. I don’t know her name. We have that kind of nodding acquaintance that people who pass by each other or see each other regularly have. We were having a lively discussion about a wide range of things in the locker room when she mentioned her wife, who is a nurse. What struck me about that was the gift she had just handed me. Trust. She had no real idea how I was going to respond. I was very moved by the inclusion into this part of her life, and I took it precisely as it was: a tiny bit of intimacy about her lifestyle, quietly handed to me to accept, and it went right to my heart. These small gestures of inclusion — the opportunity to embrace who someone is with respect, to not judge, to see that someone has just shared a very important piece of themselves with you- where I sit, that’s one of the best parts of life. So many of us live with the fear that who we are or what we choose or how we live isn’t going to be acceptable to others. That can be highly stressful- and is- to many. All of us want to feel safe as we are- not have to give up a huge chunk of ourselves to be acceptable to others.
We have a VERY long way to go. A court decision, for example, outlawing FGM doesn’t mean the practice stops. It just goes further underground. By the same token, outlawing hate crimes, or instituting laws for protected classes doesn’t change hateful behavior. It just goes further underground- until of course a new President legitimizes hate openly. Which is what we now have.
I don’t have the answers, Dori. All I know is that I can continue to hope, work for and continue to support the caring treatment of all of us- no matter who we are. People operate out of fear of what they don’t understand or can’t quite comprehend. That means that someone else always ends up being THEM, or THEY, or OTHER. There’s an invisible barbed wire fence, and anyone on the other side is to be feared. Such things lead to hate, war, criminal acts, and viciousness.
For my part, when someone, like my friend in the locker room, hands me the gift of letting me into that inner chamber of her lifestyle, it’s an honor. I treat it as such. In these very small but hugely meaningful ways we create connective tissue, and build community. All I can hope for is that it strengthens those I meet and whose lives I touch, for it most assuredly strengthens me. Thanks for your comments. You’re spot on.