Pride is a Promise

Walking through Bethesda today, I saw two guys holding hands. I know it’s 2018, and what I’m about to say might sound provincial. But that sight never fails to make me happy.

I remember when I worked in the French Quarter in the summer of 2016. One day, a middle-aged man came into the shop and asked for advice buying a gift.

Over the course of him describing what the recipient liked, it became clear — slowly, shyly — that it was for another man. When he saw how completely okay that was with us, he visibly brightened and opened up.

Turns out, it wasn’t just another man. It was his husband. And they were celebrating their one-year anniversary with a trip to New Orleans. It was something they never thought they’d be able to do.

I asked him how long they had been together.

Eighteen years.

The rest of the story is what you would expect. We all got emotional, commiserated about small Southern towns and lost time. And where we all were that summer day in 2015 when things went a little more rainbow. He was, fortunately for him and his husband, close to a courthouse that conformed to the new laws.

It’s been three years, and the world has changed. We’re all aware of what’s gotten worse. Can we take a moment to collectively affirm what’s gotten better? Every year, there are fewer lost years. We’re closing the gaps. Eighteen years becomes eighteen months,

becomes eighteen days,

becomes two hands held at a Bethesda bus stop.

We still have much to protest, including the rainbow-washing of protest itself. “Queer and In Trouble” needs to be cared for at least as much as “Gay and In Love”. Many of us, myself included, are still working on survival.

But please, save some room in your heart for the kind of dreaming that made that man wait eighteen years.

It pays off.