I'll be honest, I was okay with his chess-playing ways. I trusted that his bald eagle emblazoned plate was pretty dog gone full. I mean, his to do list from the outset was enough to make most people curl up into a ball and take a nap for four years. I didn't need nor expect him to take the pro stance until well into his second term. But President Obama's announcement last week that he is now in support of gay marriage caught in my throat and brought tears to my eyes in a way I could not have anticipated.
A sitting president of the United States has finally supported not only homomony, but also my own personal lifestyle, my marriage, my children and...in a word...me. Boy howdy, I cried like Sherri Shepherd after she was kicked off of Dancing with the Stars.
When I examine it, however, my emotionality may not solely belong to this momentous event. Let's face it, this last week was one for the books when it comes to gay marriage and gay marriage adjacent news. Day after day we were bombarded with juicy items culminating with our president's announcement.
Let me start with the joyous fact that my husband and I just celebrated our eleventh anniversary. Not that it's a legally recognized eleven years, but after the planning, the church ceremony, the one hundred fifty guests, the reception complete with open bar, photo booth and Go Big Daddy Band (only to be followed by a joint mortgage, living wills and two adopted children) I challenge anyone to find a couple more married (in or out of quotation marks) than we are. I love my husband, and I'm proud we made it to our steel wedding anniversary. (Who created the anniversary gift list? What was I supposed to give the man? Lug nuts?)
Seemingly unrelated, Maurice Sendak, the children's author and illustrator who showed us Where the Wild Things Are passed away at 83. Among Sendak's many accomplishments were working with Jim Henson, producing a children's show with Carole King, designing sets for opera and ballet, and winning numerous awards including the Caldecott Medal for children's literature. Sendak was also gay, something he didn't make public until 2008, one year after the passing of his partner of fifty years, Eugene Glynn. Now, I don't pretend to know Mr. Sendak or Mr. Glynn. They were of a different time when being discrete was a way of survival, but I have to wonder had the laws been different, had in their day a sitting president espoused acceptance, would they have publicly come out of the closet, or might they have taken it a step further and chosen homomony? And in examining Mr. Sendak's own words, Let the wild rumpus start, I'd like to think they would have.
Even John Travolta and the many male massage therapists he allegedly fondled, propositioned, and masturbated in front of over the years came to mind. I can't help but speculate if the man who brought to life Vinnie Barbarino, Tony Manero and a Cher-sounding Edna Turnblad was given the freedom to live his true life, if he didn't have to worry about perceptions and innuendo while being a box office success, if he could have married the man of his dreams (still speculating) without fretting about the shadow of Scientology, there might not be a mountain of sexual harassment law suits piling up at a furious rate.
Also, last week, pulpits across North Carolina were abuzz with anti gay marriage rhetoric. Religious leaders encouraged their parishioners to vote for the passing of Amendment One, which would make the state's ban on same sex marriage a constitutional amendment. (Excuse me, Ma'am, but your church and state are commingling.) And no one was louder than Pastor Sean Harris, who gained notoriety when he proselytized, "Dads, the second you see your sons dropping the limp wrists, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch." Sentences made only more horrifying by congregants heard in the background punctuating Harris's words with jovial laughter and heartfelt Amens. Without quite apologizing, Harris has since admitted that he got caught up in the moment and probably shouldn't have used such violent imagery, and actually likened himself Jesus who he says also used hyperbole to get his message across to his flock. I'm feeling generous today, so let's take him at his word. My concern, however, is for those in the congregation who egged him on with relish and fervor, for those who could not define hyperbole let alone spell it. I worry that seeds have been planted, that nagging suspicions will gestate into paranoia, that Junior's effeminate comment or laissez faire hand on hip will tip the scale and what was intended as exaggeration, overstatement, amplification will suddenly be thrust into bone-crushing action, causing nightmarish realities.
And all this before President Barack Hussein Obama sat down with Robin Roberts and put to bed (sorry for that choice) any questions any of us had about his personal feelings towards gay marriage. It was an acceptance...no, that doesn't quite define what I felt. Hmmmmmmmm. You know when your badass coach gives you a thumbs up for a well swum race? Or when your hard-as-nails teacher returns a test emblazoned with an A++ ? Or when the sexy stranger at the other side of the bar smiles a devious smile and buys your drink with no strings attached? Well, what I felt was more validating than the three of those combined.
Risking possible political suicide, our president spoke his truth. And I have to believe that because it seems that this action could cause more alienation than political gain.
There will be truckloads of fallout from this interview. But I encourage us all to sift through the chaff (Bristol Palin, go home!) and move forward positively.
The President has spoken.