Finding Joy Through Bittersweet Tears – The Downfall of DOMA and Prop8

June 26, 2013 in It is what it is - opinion column | Comments (4)


Image courtesy of Shutterstock

So for those of you coming a bit late to the story … I’m gay.

That this should matter, that this should even be an issue seems silly, right? It should matter about as much as any other descriptor that qualifies who I am – That I am a woman. That I am a brunette. That I love bacon. (Okay so maybe being a bacon-loving Jewish girl will cause some consternation but that’s a point for another day…and of course the fact that I am Jewish also is an issue for some … but I’ll leave that flashpoint out for now.)

Since 2008, however, this one facet of my being – that which describes the gender to which I’m attracted – has risen to the fore, becoming alternately a source of pride, a source of frustration and even occasionally a source of fear.

Today that changes and it changes big time. In an historic decision, the ruling court of this country has spoken and said that I, along with my myriad brothers and sisters across the LGBT spectrum, have rights. Do I feel vindicated? Yes. Do I feel overjoyed? Almost.

The ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States holds a bittersweet taste for me. In one moment to have such great joy and pride – to be an American, to be a proudly out lesbian, to be able to just be. In the next moment, a sense of slight sadness that even still today there are those – including some members of my family – who utterly dismiss this very central part of who I am.

Back in May 2008 the day the Calif. Supreme Court recognized gay marriage, I wept. I wept because in a moment, I felt seen in a way that I had never felt seen before. I was recognized in a way that my own family did not recognize me. It was in that moment I realized that I had been uncharacteristically quiet about being gay. Though the closet door was open, I was still inside, peering out occasionally and relegating my gay-ness to sotto voce discussions with immediate friends.

Thanks in large part to nudges from amazing LGBT leaders like Kate Kendell, involvement with organizations like the Courage Campaign, GLAAD and now HRC, over the years I have strengthened my resolve and grown comfortable in my skin. More often than not I am quick to “out” myself, both because of the responsibility I feel to my community and to show that there are many faces of gay in the world and because in doing so I further strengthen my own comfort on this.

Today I watch as my Facebook newsfeed, Twitter stream and email inbox fill with notes of joy, congratulations and celebration from the remarkable people with whom I’ve been blessed to cross paths on this journey. I watch as major companies, like Google, step forward to laud today’s news.

But I would be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling a pang of sadness that among the flood of messages across all platforms, solely one email from my two nieces stood to represent joy and support from my family. I see as others post notes from their parents and siblings telling them how happy they are. I see as fathers speak proudly of the day they can now walk their lesbian daughter down the aisle.

For now the joy I feel is for others, for all my brothers and sisters whose families embrace them and remind myself that though my family of origin, for whatever reason, rejects me through silence, that my family of choice stands by me in pride.

Note: The first image in this post is courtesy of Shutterstock


4 responses to “Finding Joy Through Bittersweet Tears – The Downfall of DOMA and Prop8”

  1. I guess after our chat this week I’m not that surprised.

    We can’t help but to want our families to love every part of us and sometimes they don’t.

  2. Cathy says:

    Had a long talk with someone today about this and the truth is that I know full well that my family loves me, and while I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to it stinging a bit, I also know that they are doing the best they can. When there is someone in my life to whom I intend to commit myself I have full confidence that, though it will be hard, my family will embrace her. It is true what is said about time healing … and in the mean time I will exercise patience with my loved ones and steadfast determination in the continued battle for full equality that still lies ahead.

  3. Tara Hunt says:

    It’s such a great step forward…the bittersweet for me is why it’s still even a debate. I hope the world (and families of gays and lesbians) look back one day and feel ashamed for the way they treated people.

    Miss you much! xo

  4. Cathy says:

    Thanks for this, Tara. It is a great step forward indeed. Part of me wishes I were back in SF to be there and celebrate with all of those with whom I’ve worked so hard for the last several years. It is somehow comforting though to know that I am now in a place where a somewhat fresh battle is just underway … The State of Nevada has SJR13 – their own marriage bill – going through the Legislature. It has passed and now must pass one more time (it will go in front of a newly elected Legislature in 2015) and then will go (in 2016) to the ballot for a vote. Rolling up my sleeves and readying for the good fight here, bringing all the learning from the last years.