I am listening to my son doing housework upstairs. It warms a mother’s heart. So does this week’s news about same-sex marriage in the United States. It has been a long time coming but heartwarming all the same. For too long, many parents have felt embarrassed, ashamed, or ambivalent about their gay and lesbian children’s sexual orientation. They did not want to discuss it or even to acknowledge it. Some have gone so far as to reject their children because of it.
Gradually, those attitudes have been changing. Parents today are more likely to be openly accepting of all their children, regardless of their sexual identity. Some have bravely made public declarations of support through talks, blogs, and books. Some have made a difference by influencing their family and friends, school boards and city councils. By affecting one person at a time, these people have shifted everyone’s perceptions.
The decision of the Supreme Court to make same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States is not just a philosophical victory. It has real and immediate practical and emotional significance. A friend who lives in Texas wrote this on her Facebook page:
“For 24 hours I have luxuriated in the rainbows and glitter that have dominated my social media feeds, and I have one last comment. I am not gay; I don’t have gay parents or children or tragically closeted family members. But yesterday, human beings won. Who we, as consenting adults, choose to love and marry should have never been dictated by law in the first place. Ever. The dearest friends of my life, my beloved mentors, my writing and directing partners, my truest, dearest loves, can now legally in every single state have a recognized marriage. In my lifetime.
I have wept for my dear friends who did not make it out alive, who would have loved this week. I have wept with joy for our children, who won’t even remember when this wasn’t the norm. I grew up in small towns where as a child ‘colored’ girls weren’t supposed to be in our Brownie troop, in towns where as a teenager I was the ‘fake’ girlfriend and cover story and alibi when being gay was still a crime. I rejoice.” Suzanne Tidwell.
This very moving post exposes the lifelong impact that segregation and exclusion can have not only on the individuals being subjected to these cruel social punishments, but also on their friends and family members.
In my lifetime, attitudes towards homosexuality have gone from ignorance, rejection, and anger to increased understanding, acceptance, and love. Today in the United States, as in many other countries, the days of awkward silences, denials, rejections, and fake girlfriends and boyfriends can now be over. Parents won’t have to sweep their children’s sexual orientation under the rug any more. There is nothing to hide.