Where did all these gay people come from?!
That thought first hit me last December when more than 900 same-sex couples in Utah swarmed clerks offices and got married before the Supreme Court stayed a federal judge’s ruling declaring that reddest of red state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. That thought returned this week as the justices made marriage equality legal in one unlikely state after another.
Of course, my question was facetious. As a member of the tribe, I know we gays are everywhere. But be honest, many of you thought lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans were congregating in big blue states like New York and California or in urban areas of states perceived to be less accepting. But this week same-sex couples in Utah, Nevada, Oklahoma, Indiana, Wisconsin and West Virginia (West Virginia!!) rushed to get married. Because of the Supreme Court’s action on Monday, marriage equality will eventually be legal in 35 states.
I cannot begin to articulate just how moving all of this is. Looking at the faces of the couples yearning to say “I do” is to see the gay community in all its diverse glory. One picture after another dispels the myth perpetuated by the media, television and movies that gay men and lesbians are all rich or all impossibly good-looking or all as fabulous as those witty sitcom characters they’ve come to know. The message this sends to young people who are LGBT or questioning their sexuality is that it is okay to be yourself. The message this sends to everyone is that LGBT people are just like everyone else. They believe in America’s promise and want to be full participants in the American Dream.
Last night, I moderated a discussion featuring my Post colleague Steven Petrow (a.k.a. Mr. Manners) about modern etiquette. There were lots of questions about gay weddings and such. Afterwards, a man who lives in Washington with his partner but whose home state is North Carolina told me they were debating whether to get married in the District, where marriage equality is already legal, or in the Tar Heel State when it becomes legal as a result of the Supreme Court this week. I urged him to wed in North Carolina for the symbolism. But he said a friend gave him a more powerful reason to do so. She wanted him to come home to marry so that her young son could bear witness. She said it was important to her for him to see that it was okay, he said.
Pretty soon, it will be okay in all 50 states.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter:@Capehartj