After the first blush of stunned awe and cheering about the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in favor of same sex marriage yesterday, I began seeing a lot of posts across my social media feeds that ranged from gentle reminders that the ruling is far from the end of the fight for social justice, to flat-out criticisms of all the jubilation that broke out as nothing more than a frivolous distraction from real issues.
You know…I can’t think of a single person who’s happy about the SCOTUS marriage ruling who is like, “Welp [dusts hands] guess our work here is done. Good game, everyone!” Not a single one.
Yes, there is so much more to do. There will ALWAYS be more to do. Marriage equality doesn’t change anti-LGBTQIA discrimination, doesn’t make life safer for marginalized groups, doesn’t affect the oppressed in other nations. It doesn’t change the fact that too many of our everyday products are affordable because there’s slavery in the supply chain. It doesn’t change police brutality against people of color. It doesn’t change the harassment of the homeless, or the struggle of the working poor to survive, or the continued inequality of access to healthcare resources.
Hell, it doesn’t change the fact that a car full of men drove past me *twice* on Thursday evening as I scurried to Fringe’s Preview Night in burlesque drag to make good and sure I knew they were laughing extra-exaggeratedly at me and mocking me loudly for being fat, femme, and visible. It doesn’t change manspreading or comment trolls or Nice Guys demanding the sex they feel owed or arguments about who’s a traitor to feminism because of how they like to dress.
The to-do list of Shit We Need To Change is endless. And overwhelming. And sometimes just thinking about it is enough to provoke hopelessness and despair.
And that’s why some of us took a night to celebrate. Maybe even a whole weekend. That’s why it felt important to have some joy.
If you personally did not feel celebratory, or maybe raised a glass but couldn’t stop thinking about the road ahead, I get that. I’m not criticizing you for that. Everyone felt some kind of way and your feelings are your own and no one gets to dictate whether or not you felt the “right” way.
But that also applies to those who reveled in rainbow glee. Our celebration was not a middle finger to the rest of the social justice work that waits. We’re not dumb. We know that after Christmas break, we all have to go back to school. But one of my favorite literary characters is Old Fezziwig from A Christmas Carol, who points out that work will still be there in the morning, but Christmas Eve is once a year and celebrating it is important because otherwise, what are we living for?
I celebrated because without moments of rest and celebration, everything we do is just a Sisyphean labor. I celebrated because if I waited until total social justice was achieved before I celebrated anything, I would be long dead. So would we all.
I celebrated because last night a stranger thought it was beautiful that I kissed a girl in front of the White House amidst a crowd and it was the same girl whose hand I was nervous to hold in public on the streets of Manhattan when we dated over a decade ago.
I celebrated because throughout history, people in even the very worst conditions have sung together, laughed together, danced together, and taken strength from it to keep going. Because celebration defies oppression and cruelty.
I celebrated because even though I personally do not give a shit about marriage assimilationism, this ruling made a lot of people’s dreams come true and they deserve to feel over the moon about that.
I celebrated because a lot of incredibly shitty shit has happened lately, and because we spent all week fighting with ignorant fucks about issues that shouldn’t even be a question anymore, and it was pretty amazing by contrast to have something wonderful to cheer about as we headed into the weekend.
I celebrated because in thirty years when we’ve accomplished a whole bunch of other shit and we’re taking a well-earned break for a drink and someone starts the conversation with, “Where were you the night SCOTUS affirmed marriage as a civil right?”, I want to be able to say that I drank toasts and ate Skittles and wore rainbow socks and took an impromptu drive with part of my polycule with the windows wide open and dance music playing loud, into the nation’s capital at 2 in the morning to see for myself the White House drenched in color and to cry when I heard people of all ages, colors, orientations around me singing the national anthem because for a change it felt pretty awesome to be an American.
I celebrated because this ruling is a crowbar that’s going to help pry open some of the other locked doors we’re all trying to bust down and anything we can use besides bare fists to do that is a huge help.
I celebrated because there are so many things we’re all working on that it can feel very isolating, like we’re all stretched too thin to make any difference, like we don’t have enough dollars or enough hours to give to everything that we care about and you never feel certain that you’re fighting the “right” fights at any given time, and it is hugely affirming to have something that brings us all together even for a moment. To be able to look around and see rainbow icons EVERYWHERE and realize that there really are a shitload of us and maybe we’re going to be okay because if there are that many of us, maybe there are enough to eventually tackle all the changes if we’re each putting our personal focus on some of the things. If there are that many of us, we can share the energy of supporting each other in spirit and helping each other carry on that way without each of us trying and failing to Change All The Things.
I celebrated because it’s not every day that you get a clear-cut win, but when you do, it’s proof that a clear-cut win is *possible* and gods know we need all the well-founded hope and optimism we can get.
I celebrated because having this victory means that all the resources that were put towards winning it are now available to be mobilized for future victories. And every time we get a victory, we get more resources to put towards one fewer fights.
I celebrated because I did not realize how genuinely full of joy and merriment my heart would be at that particular announcement, and it felt good to laugh and dance and cheer and be insanely grateful that I happen to live so close to the site of this moment in history right now. Because it’s rare to feel so completely un-cynical for a moment and I savored that experience.
I celebrated because yesterday the highest court in the land said that Love matters, that it is a civil right, that it is more important than procreation or political alignment or even religion. This is a victory for Love, and we need all of those that we can get.
That’s all. Don’t worry, friends. I haven’t magically forgotten everything else I care deeply about, and I would venture to say that no one else has either. Joy makes me stronger; I am armored in hope and armed with humor and song.
I celebrated last night so that tomorrow I will fight better.