Pride weekend, June 1993 found me in San Francisco. I went with several Army buddies, driving up from Monterey.
We were so excited. President Bill Clinton had been elected the previous fall, with a campaign promise to remove the gay ban on military service.
I'd only been out a few months, though by that point I'd been in 4 years on AD and 5 total. The day was a whirlwind of joy, pride, and most of all hope. Hope for our individual futures. Hope that our nation was finally recognizing our right to just be. That immutable characteristics should never be used to stereotype or judge someone's character.
The following weeks made it clear our hopes were not to be. After bigots like Strom Thurmond used word for word
their identical arguments against military integration in 1948, President Clinton sold us out for political expediency.
Instead of a repeal of the ban, we got something even worse. Told that we could be
gay, but to never talk about, never let anyone find out, to live our lives as a lie
. There is no honor in treating your armed forces that way.
I chose to give up my career that fall. I left for college, and ironically chose the heart of the deep South to be out and proud in. Wasn't the smartest choice, but I learned quickly how to survive in a hostile environment.
Two years later, President Clinton betrayed every single GLBTQ person
in the country by signing DOMA, a law he knew
would not stand a constitutional challenge. It was an act of cowardice.
By 2004, I'd lived a decade in the south, then finally moved to my original home city of Seattle. The contrast was stark. When I met my future wife in 2004, the thing that struck me the most was how natural it was to just hold her hand while we were walking. The first time, I walked several blocks before I realized something. If I'd done that in the deep South, I'd have felt constantly on guard. Eyes in the back of my head, wary and ready for an attack.
No one should ever have to feel that way. Being in love, and being in fear of being seen in love by someone who hates.
I was lucky enough she consented to marry me in 2005, and we renewed our vows in 2008 in CA after we had relocated here.
The last 7 years have been us both watching these huge changes, and frankly marveling at them. People that even five years ago were absolutely opposed to our marriage have seen the truth. Love is love.
So this Pride weekend, I look back to that scared and hopeful young soldier I was, literally half my life ago, and I want to hug her. To tell her it always
gets better. Sometimes more slowly than we would like, and sometimes in a roller coaster of change.
I recently unearthed the t-shirt I wore that Pride. Maybe I'll wear it tomorrow, and feel the unbroken circle that is all our lives.
HT +Bridget Wolfe
for the gif.