A BREATH OF FREEDOM

I am what you would call a “late bloomer” when it comes to queer issues and equal rights. This is probably due to that fact that I didn’t feel comfortable publicly identifying as queer until my mid 20’s. As a child I dressed like a boy and cut my hair short and asked people to call me “Bobby.” It was how I felt most comfortable. I remember the incessant teasing by my classmates at that time, and being asked if I was a lesbian. I would cry myself to sleep some nights because I knew that if I really was a lesbian, I would be different and that would be awful. I must have heard somewhere that God would punish me and not allow me to live a happy life if I were gay, so I was terrified of that as well. So I made a conscious decision to never let that happen. I would hide this part of me forever. I started wearing dresses and dating boys. I would be normal, just like everyone else.
I continued secret relationships with women in my early 20’s, calling them “friends” to my family and friends, and getting defensive if anyone ever tried to say we were more than that.

My actual “coming out” moments happened to coincide with the same year I got into recovery from a long bout with alcohol addiction. I had lost myself to alcoholism, and through my recovery I was suddenly coming into my own, realizing who I really was, who I really COULD be. I felt fresh, reborn, ready for anything. I was especially ready to stop hiding and feeling ashamed. This was in 2008, the same year that the battle for marriage equality had really gained full steam. It was also the year of the joke that was proposition 8. I had begun timidly going to gay 12 step meetings, and I was probably attending those meetings to find a sober girlfriend, as that’s what newcomers do. (Chuckle) Instead I was introduced to the seasoned lesbians that would transform the way I looked at equal rights. They were living their lives outside of the mostly sheltered bubble of the South Bay, where I had been born and raised and kept “safe” from things like changing the world. They were fiercely well versed on the subject of equality, and they dressed hip too. Most importantly, they were actually living the life I had been terrified to embrace, and they were doing it happily. I started to believe that I could be happy as well.

I began marching in huge rallies and parades all over Los Angeles, speaking out against prop 8. People put signs in my hands and I waved and marched and screamed through megaphones, and met all kinds of like-minded fucking incredible humans. I found my voice. I don’t reflect back on that time and have any regrets.  I knew right then, right at the moment it was all happening, that I was a part of something big. It was immediately clear that I was fighting for my freedom, and for the freedom of generations to come.

In the years since, I have had the pleasure of following every court loss and victory regarding marriage equality, big or small. During these same years, my own life has changed and evolved and had its own little queer set backs and victories as well. I’ve had a few failed relationships that taught me valuable lessons. I learned how to be reliant on a God of my own understanding, who loves me no matter what. My parents who started out as wary observers of my same sex lifestyle, have come around and become two of my biggest supporters. Over the years I have even grown to accept myself for who I am and who I love, and most people in my life accept it as well. I have learned to navigate the prejudices, the false statements, the over explaining, the hatred, and also the love and support that goes with being an out American lesbian today. All the while, the fight for marriage equality for every American has been raging on in the background of my world. Equality and I have been on a journey of sorts together. My first date with my now girlfriend, Amie was to take photos of the celebrations in the streets of West Hollywood after California finally lifted their ban on same sex marriage. While I was ecstatic about that enormous victory for California, I never completely let go of the belief that we just weren’t quite THERE until ALL Americans had the right to marry who they loved. I still felt as if I was holding my breath for the people in those states that didn’t have the same rights as me. I felt as though I would holding my breath for a long time.

This morning, I finally exhaled.

When I read the news of The Supreme Court’s decision to grant marriage equality in all 50 states, I wept with relief. It was as if something was released inside of me that I didn’t even realize I’d been holding onto for so many years.

“At last at last at last,” I whispered through my tears. “We did it.”

I am still a work in progress, and just like my life, this journey is far from over. The road to equality is still a long one. After all, I still have people on my Facebook newsfeed that think the Supreme Court’s ruling today stating that marriage is a constitutional right for everyone has something to do with religion and goes against God and the bible.

These people must be very disappointed to live in America today. It must be tough to wake up everyday and realize that their false interpretation of what the bible says holds no bearing on basic human equal rights. Ironically, all I can do is pray for them. I pray that they learn to grow with us on this journey, and find acceptance.

Today I live with Amie and everyone knows that we are two chicks in love. I breathe easily and I am comfortable living authentically not just in my relationship with her, but in all areas of my life.

I attribute some of this feeling of freedom to the fight for equality that I was privileged to be a part of over the past 7 years. I encourage anyone to take part in any battle that allows them the freedom to be themselves.

You won’t regret it.

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