pride thoughts 2021

Every year in June, I think about Edie Windsor and Thea Speyer. Though they’re both gone now, in the not too distant past, Edie (in her 80s) fought a long battle to have her marriage to Thea legally recognized.

She refused to give up on the promise of America. And she refused to shrink any part of herself in order to fit into the America that she dreamed of.

Her victory led the way for the US Supreme Court to declare marriage equality the law of the land in June of 2015. Edie died two years later, at the age of 88, having been a freedom fighter for LGBTQ rights since the 1960s.

She spent her life fighting for justice and equality and truth. And she, and love, won.

Every year, on a particular day in June, I think about the truth.

Nine years ago this month, at the border of where I literally wouldn’t survive so long as I kept living in the fear of the judgment of others and of destroying the world as we knew it – I finally conceded the truth to someone I loved.

And in doing so, I finally conceded the truth to me.

The instant I said the words, I learned that the truth is a beautiful and terrible thing. That the truth wasn’t going to feel hopeful to most of the people I loved. And that, in or out of the closet, there would be a heavy price to pay.

The deeper truth that I can see now is that I never realized how much you can take from someone by denying them the words they need to describe themselves. By denying yourself the words you need. And by denying the reality that is you.

It’s still hard, even now, to put into words what it’s like to make a decision that crushes hearts, but heals your soul. That kind of heartbreak, and feeling like you’re the cause of it, will keep you silent. Many people will be glad for your silence and, in subtle ways, will ask you to stay that way. These last years, I’ve been unable to buy into that kind of subtle oppression. Because I know how desperately I once looked into the faces of other women for any sign that the seismic shift happening in me, had happened to them too. I needed to know I wasn’t alone.

So I know now that telling our stories, first to ourselves – and then to others – can be a revolutionary act.

Every time we choose courage, we make ourselves a little braver. And I hope we make the world a little braver. I think we could all stand for the world to be a little braver. Especially right now.

I think of Edie Windsor’s words today. “Don’t postpone joy,” she said. On Oct. 22, 2020, I stopped postponing joy – permanently. I did something I once never dreamed I could. Or would.

I married her.

Edie & Thea

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