Today the Supreme Court of the United States – or SCOTUS for short, for my international peeps who don’t know – handed down a 5-4 ruling that marriage equality is a constitutional right.
To which I say “WELL, DUH” and then “HURRAH!”
This day has been one of mixed emotions for me.
I loved seeing the photos of adorable elderly couples who are now FINALLY able to marry after years and years together – I think my heart exploded from all the cuteness.
I squeed when I watched Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi’s cheeky Vine, complete with rainbow confetti and “We Are The Champions” blasting in the background. IAN MCKELLEN IS LIKE THE COOLEST OLD PERSON EVER AND I’M SO GLAD THAT THIS YEAR HE’S ONE OF THE GRAND MARSHALS OF THE NYC PRIDE PARADE OMGGGG.
I squealed when I realized that now, if I want to get married, I can do so in anywhere in America – and that marriage would remain legal if my wife and I moved to another state! Four years ago when I was beginning to think about possible careers, my options were quite limited in terms of location: I didn’t want to live anywhere where I wouldn’t be able to get married.
I giggled at this tweet.
And I have to admit that I got a little bit teary-eyed just thinking about all the little kids, the kids born today, and the kids born in days to come who will grow up knowing they can marry someone of the same gender. The kids who can’t remember a time when marriage equality didn’t exist in America, the kids who never question it. This would’ve meant so much to me when I was a little girl.
I’m thrilled that my nation has marriage equality. This is a defining moment for us, to be sure. My arms hurt from pinching myself all day to make sure this is real – that we really can get married anywhere in the United States, that our relationships are legally (if not always societally) recognized as valid. A few years ago, I would never have believed that this would someday be possible. So I’m happy today.
But I’ve also felt some… rather bitter emotions? Yeah, I think that’s a good way to put it.
This is a day worth celebrating – especially since it’s also the anniversary of two other landmark Supreme Court decisions concerning LGBTQ+ people, Lawrence v. Texas and United States v. Windsor. This is a day worth celebrating, especially if you couldn’t get married before and now you can.
I don’t want anyone to get the wrong message and think that I think this day isn’t worth celebrating.
I just… I just think BALANCE is key here: There are so many LGBTQ+ issues that still need work.
We can celebrate and keep moving forward. Just as we can work on (and care about) multiple LGBTQ+ issues at once, so too can we continue to celebrate on this day and during the days immediately following it while continuing to work on other causes.
…honestly, this message isn’t even directed at LGBTQ+ people. It’s directed at our allies, most of whom seem to think the fight is over. (I can’t tell you how many Facebook posts I’ve seen while scrolling my feed that declared, “Equality has been achieved!” Um.) And even the allies who do realize that there is more work to be done usually, um… don’t help with it. So why do they need a “holiday” from their allyship?
Look, if you’re an ally and you’ve posted all sorts of congratulatory stuff on social media today, then… thanks! I’m genuinely grateful to know that we are in your thoughts.
But I also wish that so many allies didn’t, you know, save this outpouring of support and love and LGBTQ+-affirming social media posts for one day out of the year – or, at best, for Pride Month.
Once again, let’s use Facebook as an example. My feed is basically NOTHING but rainbows and queerness and glitter right now. And it’s lovely! It truly is.
I couldn’t help but notice, though, that the vast amount of updates made (or shared) by allies were posted by people who never ever ever talk about LGBTQ+ otherwise. I mean, I was SURPRISED to see some of my friends’ ally-ish posts because they have never said anything to indicate that they support LGBTQ+ rights.
I try to be a happy-go-lucky, giggling, glitter-filled nerd ALL THE TIME, and I usually succeed, but this left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m kind of grumpy right now.
I have a grand total of ONE friend who is a good ally. She consumes LGBTQ+ media, stays up to date on news related to us, regularly posts about LGBTQ+ issues, and seems to have educated herself pretty well about LGBTQ+ issues. SHE MAKES ME SO HAPPY.
It’s taken me most of the afternoon to sort through what, exactly, was bothering me about the recent SCOTUS ruling. Eventually I realized had nothing to do with the ruling itself: Part of my grumpiness is due to the exasperation I feel whenever I remember how much work still needs to be done until we do achieve full equality, and quite a lot of my grumpiness is due to the weird ways people are reacting to the news. I tried not to let them get on my nerves, but that plan didn’t work very well.
I’m not annoyed that allies are talking and writing and posting about LGBTQ+ issues today – on the contrary, I love it! But I wish they did this more often. It doesn’t even have to be every day or most days, but more days would be lovely.
This is not meant to be accusatory. This is meant to be helpful, and I hope to make you think about what you could be doing differently – what you could do to be a better ally.
I’d like to see allies discussing LGBTQ+ stuff (and writing and learning about it, and especially bringing more attention to things said/written by queer people about queer issues) more often than not. I’m not annoyed that allies are talking about this stuff TODAY – I’m annoyed that for so many of them, this will be the only day they do so.
Where was their support on National Coming Out Day? Transgender Day of Remembrance? International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, & Transphobia? Asexual Awareness Week? World AIDS Day?
Where is their support on ordinary days? You don’t have to wait for a momentous decision or some high-profile celebrity’s coming-out announcement or the death of a queer child or even an LGBTQ+ holiday to show your support.
I’m grateful for allies, but I wish they would stop making themselves known only once or twice a year. I know that many of the straight people following this blog consider themselves allies, and I’m here to point out that a hell of a lot of you – not all of you, but moat of you – are pretty quiet about LGBTQ+ issues throughout the year.
(The one big exception consists of the book bloggers reading and reviewing LGBTQ+ YA, but even then… the lives of real queer people will ALWAYS be more important than those of the queer characters you fangirl over. Please don’t say things like, “We need marriage equality so my OTP can get married!” It’s weird, and it’s rude. We need marriage equality because real people deserve human rights.)
If you so rarely act like an ally that people are surprised to find out you actually are one, then you have some work to do.
You don’t have to wait until it becomes fashionable to change your social media profile picture to rainbows or a red equals sign.
You don’t have to wait until some aspect of the LGBTQ+ rights movement is turned into a hashtag.
You don’t have to wait until it becomes cool to be an ally.
You don’t have to wait until “everyone else is doing it.”
You can start any day.
It doesn’t have to be hard and if you don’t know where to start because you’ve never really done this before… just start somewhere. Start talking and writing and blogging and posting about these issues, and keep doing so.
On ordinary days.
You don’t have to wait.
If for some reason you can’t go out and volunteer at some LGBTQ+ organization – maybe you don’t have time, or you’re under sixteen and don’t have anyone willing to drive you, or whatever – the least you can do to fulfill your duty as an ally is to talk and write about it. Raise other’s awareness and enhance your own. This can be as simple as telling someone about a fascinating LGBTQ+ news article you read, or whatever.
If some LGBTQ+ activists choose to take the day off from our fight for rights, then that is their prerogative and I fully support them in doing so.. There are some extremely hard-working straight allies who deserve a break too, but the majority? I haven’t seen the majority of allies doing anything throughout the year, soooo… why on earth do they need a vacation?
If anything, use this day as momentum for your allyship – if you spent the entire day being all “ASLKJFASLKFJALFAJS YAAAAAAAAY!” about marriage equality, then let that attitude stick with you for days and days to come.
Don’t reserve your allyship only for days when practically everyone is speaking up about LGBTQ+ issues. Please be an active supporter on more days, most days, or ordinary days. Please.