We live in a time of miracles.
I don’t think my generation — or any of those that follow — can claim the moniker Tom Brokaw gave those who grew up during the Great Depression, and those who fought in the trenches and on the homefront during World War II: the Greatest Generation. Those men and women were great because they were willing to make sacrifices for the common good. When soldiers went off to war, those at home did what was necessary to pay for that war — they didn’t wave a few flags to feel righteously patriotic and then go on with their own lives as though those in the the trenches didn’t matter.
And yet, in the midst of the self-centered, “I don’t want to pay taxes but I want good roads and good schools and responsive services from the government (without government intervention in my life)” mentality which runs rampant today, miracles are occurring. I’m not talking about breakthroughs in cancer treatment (though having lost a mother to cancer, I celebrate what can be done today), and I am not talking about technology (though things might get ugly if anyone attempts to separate me from my tablet, smartphone or e-reader). I am talking about the miraculous way we are coming to see one another as human beings.
I grew up in a different world.
I grew up in a world where people were judged by the color of their skin. I was in seventh grade when Martin Luther King was assassinated. I was in third grade when he gave his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech just months before John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He said on that August day: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are create equal.’ … I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
On that day, black men and women were still expected to give up their seats for white people on buses. On that day, signs reading “For Whites Only” stripped the dignity from black men and women. On that day, police brutality against blacks was considered acceptable by too many Americans.
Today, too many doors are still closed to blacks and other minorities as a result of poverty, but the law stands with them and that is a miracle for which I give thanks. I give thanks that American voters chose a black president in my lifetime, that while Martin Luther King, Jr., did not live to see the dream of a black man judged not by the color of his skin but by his character, I did live to see it.
And yesterday, another miracle occurred — the Supreme Court ruled laws banning gay marriage were unconstitutional. For me, that is evidence of the Spirit of the Living God sweeping across this nation. God declared in Genesis that it is not good for man (or, by extension, woman) to be alone, and in their mothers’ wombs, He created some with a same sex orientation. We must believe that He has been drawing us to this point for a very long time now.
I am grateful to have lived to see it. I have to confess that I was not aware of any orientation other than heterosexual until I was nearly 30 — but I was both naive and confused about sexuality as a result of being the victim of sexual violence. One night, I was drinking wine with a friend who was also a single parent. She said, “I love you,” and kissed me. I was stunned. I had no idea that women could love women.
Since that night, when my eyes were opened to the variations of sexual experience, I have met numerous amazing people who are gay or lesbian. (If I’ve met others, they’ve not identified themselves to me.) At times, I’ve ached for them — for the struggles some have faced. For the friend who was torn to pieces when she fell in love because she is also a person of faith who attends a church that still is fundamentally homophobic. For the friend who was afraid to come out to his parents because his father would occasionally make homophobic remarks; how could he be himself and honor his parents?
Truthfully, I wish I could end this by coming out, finding a wonderful woman to love and living happily ever after — now that it’s legal to do so. The writer in me likes the drama of that ending. Unfortunately, time has shown me that scars from being victimized by sexual violence stand between me and emotional intimacy, which must be the precursor of physical intimacy regardless of its nature.
And so, I can only share vicariously the momentous joy of knowing — as it was widely proclaimed yesterday — love wins! But I do proclaim it! Love wins!