What can you even say after a day like yesterday?
Last Saturday was the 8th annual Dyke Day in Los Angeles. Dull dykes that we tend to be these days, we didn’t join any group celebrations… although we did rent a Uhaul. We used it to drop our old couch off at a thrift store before heading off to buy a new couch.
Saturday night, we set up camping chairs in the big empty spot where our old couch used to be and ordered pizza. My wife kept leaning back in her camping chair and saying how comfortable she was. We were having such a good time, I got out my selfie stick to commemorate the occasion. “What are you going to use that picture for?” Asked my wife. “I’ll give it to our kids to show them how much fun we had before they came along.”
Sunday morning, the couch movers were 90 minutes early. At 7AM my wife met them at the door and I wandered into the kitchen to make some coffee. Alone in the kitchen, my existence would remain unknown to the movers. But I wanted to see our new couch! A series of quick calculations: if I show myself, will they realize we’re a gay couple, and if they do will they react in a negative way? I decided to take my chances.
“Good morning, ma’am.”
The couch looked great. The movers were quick and courteous. They left. I handed my wife a coffee and we luxuriated on our new couch.
“There was a shooting last night at a gay club in Orlando. 20 people were killed.”
It had been one of those mornings when I woke up at 5 and couldn’t get back to sleep. So I started reading the news on my phone. And the news wasn’t great.
Hours later, on our new comfy couch, we flipped on the TV and learned that the death toll had more than doubled. We stayed on the couch watching uninformative news reports for hours.
If you had to judge our relationship based on a moment, giggling in our camping chairs Saturday night would tell you everything you need to know about us. Being together makes the smallest things fun. Being together delights us.
We do have a gay agenda, and it’s to be together as often as we can be.
“If we can never leave the house again, I’m really glad we got this couch,” said my wife.
But we do have to leave the house. We work. We need groceries. We have plans. And every time we leave the house, we turn on the visibility calculator in our minds. That mental machine that ran the numbers when I was deciding if I should leave the kitchen or not, and runs the odds when we’re picking a restaurant in a new town, or getting into an Uber, or anything that might put us in the cross-hairs of strangers.
One of my gay friends says being gay is a privilege. “We see everything,” he says. “We record and reflect society.”
I think we do see everything, and I know we see the real you. The “you” deep down inside that you might not be proud of, but can’t avoid becoming upon contact with us. We see you react with distaste, disgust, or violence when you realize who we are. That’s uncomfortable at best and terrifying at worst.
We see you react with over-eager attention when you suddenly realize we’re extra points for your liberal cred. That’s kind of cute sometimes, except we’re real people, not just extra credit.
And we see you react with incredible kindness, with compassion, with love and support freely offered and true. We see you get angry at the people who hurt us. We see you stand by those who embrace us.
For reasons I don’t quite understand, once I started coming out, I knew I wasn’t going to stop, no matter what. Sometimes, the steps forward are trying and painful. Sometimes they don’t feel like that big a deal. And sometimes, moving forward is possible only because I see an outstretched hand ahead of me.