As expected, there are nagging issues that my impatient self would like resolved RIGHTNOW, but I realize that this is a big thing and it will take time to get there. What's important to me is that my parents are willing to try. (To a point, at least. Don't get crazy.)
One such issue is my father's refusal to support same-sex marriage rights. Did I expect my parents to suddenly be allies? Hell no.
But having my father look me in the eye and tell me that, knowing the "they" he referred to is me, knowing that the relationships he was calling "not the same" included my relationships, really had its own special level of suck. Today I stumbled across the perfect words (not my own) to describe it:
"There is something uniquely demeaning about being told by a man who brought you into this world, and/or brought you up in it, that it is not a world to which you deserve equal opportunity, equal access, your fair share, but a world in which you deserve less.[ "To the Daughters of the Angry Emailers" at Shakesville. The post is on gender, not sexual orientation, but it rang deeply true for me and for this situation. I highly recommend her post, as well. :) ]
Less respect. Less dignity. Less agency. Less autonomy. Less opportunity. Less voice. Less ownership of self. Less of your humanity, because humanness is a zero sum game, and a little of yours must be given to him."
You see, what I cannot explain to the straight people in my life is why I am so invested in equal marriage rights. Do I want to get married? Maybe. I wouldn't bet on it, though.
I could explain eight ways to Sunday why, should I choose to use the rights or not, I should be guaranteed all of the same civil rights as everyone else.
I could try to explain systemic oppression, "marked" or marginalized groups, "othering," second class citizenship, social consequences of legal forces, hegemony, privilege vs. oppression, how separate is not equal, and every negative or horrible experience I have had because of my sexual orientation. And while they may be empathetic, they can never truly understand.
It's easy to say, "what's the big deal about marriage?" when you have that right guaranteed to you. It's really easy to accept compromise for other people. It's really easy to gloss over it with, "why are you so worked up? Gays have rights" when no one's ever told you to just be happy to get ANY rights.
I live in a society that tells me, at every level, you do not deserve equal opportunity, equal access, you deserve less.
Less respect. Less dignity. Less agency. Less autonomy. Less opportunity. Less voice. Less ownership of self. Less of your humanity.
Being in love can get me killed.
Think about that.
Some people, uncomfortable with acknowledging reality, may try to brush me off as overdramatic. I'm not. Pick up a newspaper. Anti-queer violence is very common.
I guess I can accept society as an unfortunate reality. But it's much harder to just accept my own family thinking of me as less.