Note: I’ve been in a bit of a writers block these last few weeks. And the other day I sat down to write an article to my son on Father’s Day. It was one of those moments where in 10 minutes, everything I hoped could be put to paper was. When we learned we were going to have a baby, I wrote my first letter to my son in the midst of our frantic travel (telling him what we hoped he learned from each place we traveled to). That’s when I first learned that he is this beautiful inspiration for me to break free of my writers block and share a bit of who I am beyond the travel tips and advice with readers of this blog. With the decision from the Supreme Court, I felt the same way. I was scrolling through Facebook for a good hour liking every post I could that affirmed the dignity of so many of my friends, and I felt a need to document it. And the most meaningful way to do that, was a letter to my son. So two letters in one week? And is this travel related? Yes and no. The values that make up my life are intertwined with the values derived from travel. But more than anything, I see this blog being about travel first and foremost, life as a millennial second. I imagine many a millennial friend with kids or kids on the way have thought about what this decision by the Supreme Court will mean for their families. And so we write about it. To those of you so deeply impacted by the decision from the Supreme Court: We are so damn happy for you today.
What if you’re gay? What if you don’t feel free to fully embrace who you are?
There are a lot of things I am afraid we’ll still struggle to talk about as you come of age. I fear I’ll have to explain why, over 50 years later, Dr. King’s beautiful and simple dream remains so elusive. I fear you growing up in a world where mass shootings don’t shock you into tears because they represent a new and horrifying norm. And I worry inequality will continue to widen, and we’ll be exposing you to friends and loved ones deeply impacted by this, and you’ll demand answers I can’t give to questions as simple as “Why isn’t life fair?” There are great joys to parenting, or so I am told, but I imagine the times you are pained by the cruelty and unfairness of the world are the times I will feel so utterly helpless and unworthy to be your dad.
But back to what if you end up saying “Part of who I am is to identify as someone who is gay?” I obviously don’t know a thing about your sexual identity, and I am pretty sure you don’t have a clue yet either. You’re just trying to suck your thumb, and last I checked on the ultrasound (with the help of your mom) that simple action proved exceedingly difficult for you. But today, something amazing happened. The highest court in our land made a simple proclamation: Love is love. Marriage is marriage. Simple enough. But I was sitting next to a man on the train to St. Louis who read the news, and started crying. He noticed I was liking a post from a friend (who also happens to be gay), and he looked at me, tears in his eyes, and said “I can actually marry him if I want to now.” We don’t know each other, and we both started crying even more. Love is love. It seems so simple in this moment. So utterly obvious. And so why are so many of us crying, shouting for joy, and otherwise acting so emotionally? Well actually, it wasn’t that simple, and I hope one day the following paragraph from Justice Kennedy is required reading in your history class:
And as I laughed and cried thinking about that, it hit me: One day, you and I will have a conversation. And it will be about marriage. And you’ll ask me, an incredulous look in your eyes, similar to the one when I tell you the Cubs will win the World Series soon, as you ask: “You mean (insert name of many of our friends and loved ones) wasn’t ALLOWED to marry (insert name of their beloved)?” I’ll respond yes, and you’ll look at me like that’s absolutely crazy. Because it is.
And I’ll smile knowing that you find that hard to believe. That’s progress. I’ll smile because I’ll know that when I was in high school, even I didn’t want that marriage to happen, and then I was woken up with the courage and grace of so many loved ones who simply and powerfully lived their truth. That’s progress. Here’s the thing: We travel because we are curious. We’re curious because we’re meant to connect with people. Love is a great things between partners, but love is also readily available to be shared between friends, complete strangers, and so much more. And when we travel out of our own comfort zone, we eventually encounter people who widen our zone of comfort. And then we stand on the margins of societies own comfort zone for what they don’t understand, and demand they join us in the circle of inclusion. That’s progress, we might say. I say that’s love at work. And love, love always wins. Sometimes it just takes longer than we’d like. And yes, I’m saying that as much to remind myself as I am to educate you.
Don’t misunderstand me, there’s still work to do. It’s been a rough time in the world of social justice, and I’ve got to confess: It started to feel overwhelming. I noticed it first in the students I work with.
I work with incredible students who keep me aware of the pain of the world and remind me of our unique capacity to respond to the pain and injustice in our midst. And they’ve been hurting in the face of injustice even more than usual this year.
And then I felt it in my own bones. We needed a victory of some sort, to remember that love always wins, even if takes longer than we often like. And so today, when I was sitting on this train and read the news that love is love, I found myself crying these beautiful tears of joy and relief, rather than the tears of desolation and frustration that have streaked across my face all too often as of late.
I’m anxiously awaiting your arrival. And it feels nice that out of my many anxieties, I get to take one off the list: You can marry whoever the hell you want to marry, no matter where you travel and settle in this great country of ours. That’s worth celebrating! Poco a poco, progress marches on, and these little victories are the sustenance we need to create a more just and loving world for our sons and daughters. I can’t wait to see what good your generation will do in this world! And I give thanks that the people we will raise you around, are people like my friend Tam who said it so beautifully today:
Today, a complex issue I worried about explaining to you became a little simpler to explain: Love is love. Marriage is marriage. You are free to be who you are.”
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