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A Victory for ALL!

June 28, 2013

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I grew up in New York City. One thing I haven’t mentioned is that I grew up in the 80’s. Great things came from that era. Fantastic music, questionable fashion, and some of the cheesiest films you’ll ever see. Iconic classics that set the tone for my generation: Fast Times At Ridgemont High. The Breakfast Club. Sixteen Candles. Pretty In Pink. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Back To The Future. The list is too long to name them all.

There was one thing, however, that came about in my childhood that wasn’t wonderful. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t fantastic, and it wasn’t even questionable. It was horrifying and I couldn’t understand it. It was AIDS.

Even though I was a kid, I remember when the first strike hit, and soon, it was all around. I didn’t know what it was at first. All I knew was that my skating coach was sick, and then died. My neighbor was sick, and then died. In the 90’s I lost friends. Something was killing the people in my life.

I never knew what “gay” was. No one told me; and then when I found out I didn’t understand what the issue was. I knew that some people had boyfriends, some people had girlfriends and that’s all there was to it. I didn’t see why these people who were labeled as “different” were put in a separate class, and I’m still shocked that it happens.

As AIDS ran rampant, so did the hate, and the segregation of homosexuals. The gays. The people who I simply saw as people, regardless of sexual orientation (is that even my business? I think not.), yet society had branded as dangerous and unequal.

As the years went on and we became more educated about what AIDS was, and how it came about, the outrage over homosexuality dimmed a bit. Not a huge bit, but a bit. With each passing day we moved towards acceptance, but there was still a tone in society, a smog over the minds of the general population that still said, “Gays are less than us.” Somehow, in everyday life, people who were gay were in another class.

I still can’t wrap my head around this. How can equality even be a question?

It brings me back to the women’s rights movement, the suffragettes. It takes me to the black civil rights era, when a person was better or less than based on the pigmentation of their skin. And now this. We are separated based on who we choose to love.  Have we not learned from the past?

And then, another light. A shining light this time, enveloping all the tiny little specks that have been popping up in the recent years and months, cradling it.

There was a victory for the gay community this week when the Supreme Court of The United States struck down the portion of DOMA that literally put gay people in another class. A victory of marriage and the right to equality. I rejoice in this victory, as it is one step closer to American citizens, to human beings being equal in our rights to a life of happiness and fulfillment.

While it saddens me that I know the work is not yet done, it excites me to be a witness to this historic step.  I took pause this week to think about all the people in my life affected by this victory. People I know who want to share in each other’s lives the way my husband and I share ours. The ups, the downs, all of it. To know that they are true partners and if they want, a married couple. I must admit, when Edith Windsor spoke after the decision, I wept with joy for her and so many I love and so many I do not even know.

I hope that everyone, gay and straight alike, will celebrate this milestone, and its mark in history; steadily guiding us to the world of equality that every human being deserves.

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