There are times when a gardener has to step off the garden path, when he or she has to set foot on mulch and tip-toe further in to investigate new growth, a weed, or a pest. Sometimes, it’s just to get a new perspective.
It’s the same thing with bloggers. Sometimes, you just have to step away from your theme — and for this post, I’m stepping off the garden path.
It’s been an amazing few days. My marriage is now recognized from sea to shining sea. My head is still reeling from the historic significance of the Supreme Court’s controversial decision, and to help regain focus, I visited a local community garden, where people from different backgrounds come together to learn, to share, to grow.
When the Court issued its decision, Joe and I were about to leave the house. We heard the news, applauded, and went about our day. I first dropped Joe off for a colonoscopy and then went food shopping. That’s marriage.
It wasn’t until we were both home and going through our personal FaceBook feeds that the scope and impact of the decision really hit us. As rainbow after rainbow appeared on the profile photos of straight and gay friends, as street celebrations broke out across cities and towns, and as landmarks across the nation were illuminated in rainbow colors, I cried. I was over the rainbow.
The dreams I had dared to dream really did come true . . . In my lifetime . . .
This was a far cry from the ‘60s when bars were constantly raided, when homosexuality was a psychiatric diagnosis; a far cry from the ‘80s, when I was a young gay and AIDS was in every headline; a far cry from just five years ago.
Amid all of these celebrations, there was sadness. Just prior to the Court’s decision, there was again unspeakable violence, this time in a church in Charleston. Memorials, again. Prayers, again. A call for gun control, again. A caution to not jump to conclusions, again. Empty words, again. Racism, again.
And a call for the removal of the Confederate flag.
As Confederate flags came down and rainbow flags went up, I engaged in a FaceBook tug-of-war with a friend who believes in traditional marriage. He was not happy with the Court’s decision. Period.
I tried to reason with him, to explain to him that under the Court’s ruling he is allowed to retain his faith, that his life will not change, and that if he doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage, he shouldn’t marry a man.
Seeds come in all shapes and sizes — and these seeds of understanding and acceptance would not take hold in his hardscrabble mind. He would not — could not — budge from his position.
Although he never said it, his words meant that my near 30-year relationship with Joe — no matter how much equality I had just received courtesy of the Supreme Court — was and will always be in his eyes less than his own marriage.
And that’s when all of it — the rainbows and stars and bars — all blurred and all clicked.
Despite the Court’s decision and despite the removal of the Confederate flag, there is still so much work to be done, so many conversations to have regarding race and sexuality and gender and, well, everything.
It’s like this community garden.
Just because there are raised beds of tomatoes and herbs, swiss chard and sunflowers, the garden still needs tending — just as a home garden does.
There’s weeding and fertilizing and vigilant pest removal. There’s watering and thinning and staking. There’s minding your own plot so that any problems don’t jump to other plots, so that a minor problem doesn’t become an infestation.
In a community garden, though, there’s also the tending of people: sharing, negotiating, cooperating, understanding, accepting, educating, changing, and growing.
In short, maintaining a community garden takes a lot of work.
You might even say it takes a village.
22 thoughts on “Over The Rainbow & In A Garden”
Well said. It was a big week but much work remains.
Absolutely, PBM. Absolutely.
Well said, dear Kevin! I celebrate the Court’s decision with you and Joe and my heart breaks that there are those individuals who may never agree with it or accept your marriage. What they don’t seem to understand is that your union is so much stronger than most, in part because you guys had to fight so hard and wait so long to make it legal and accepted. I often brag to people about how happy you are and what a loving relationship you have – one that is so much better than my ‘traditional’ marriage ever was – because you don’t take for granted what you have! I love you and Joe so much and cried with joy when I heard the news! We should all be sowing seeds of knowledge and understanding and love, and maybe, someday, we can overcome hatred and prejudice. What a day that will be!
Hi Aunt Pat. Thank you for your words and love and support. It seems that as a nation we are becoming more and more polarized. Rather than a melting pot or a mosaic, we seem — and sadly act — like a shattered piece of ceramic. Still, we should all work toward that “someday.” Love ya.
As I recall, the first rainbow came after global catastrophe. Ever since, they appear after storms. Unfortunately, there seems a sorrow based cause for the rainbow’s triumph, be it in meteorological or societal form. But I joy in this rainbow’s arrival, too. Hugs across cyberspace.
Hello dear friend. Beautifully said. 🙂
There’s a reason our country was founded on a principle of separation of church and state ….. so many discussions in recent days highlight the importance of it. There is still much work to be done on many fronts, and will always be. Cheers to you and Joe and for many rainbow-filled years ahead! Lovely post, Kevin.
Hi Kat. I agree. It’s always difficult to step into a controversial topic in a blog, but I tend to think we all have more in common that we have differences. I think it all could be settled with calm and honest discussion and a delicious meal. I think we have to be open to hear one another. Be well — and Happy 4th!
Congratulations on being together for almost 30 years. Many marriages have failed long before that.
The Supreme Court decision is just one step, with many more to come. I think we are a few steps ahead of you here in Canada, but we also have a long way to go.
Great blog post today.
Hi Demelza. Canada is way ahead! That being said, though, there are probably times when nations experience growing pains — this is one of those times. I think the hard part is keeping our rage against one another in check so that we can listen. Thanks for commenting.
Congratulations, Kevin and Joe! And although I’m sorry about the rift with your friend, sometimes there’s simply nothing we can do or say that will change someone’s perspective — they are convinced of the “truth” or “rightness” of their mindset and simply refuse to concede that someone else’s might have a shred of validity. But that problem is theirs, not yours. 🙂
Hello Chatsworth. Well said. In truth, my friend is a FB friend — an odd relationship in this day and age. My face-to-face friends say I should unfriend him, but that seems to easy. I think there needs to be constant dialogue and understanding and empathy. We lose all that in the yelling. Happy 4th!
Congratulations to you and Joe on your newly legitimated status! Imagine, you can go on vacation anywhere in the country and know that your marriage will be recognized! The court decision isn’t a panacea and it doesn’t instantly change people’s minds, but it’s an important step. It has been wonderful to see all the photos this week of elderly couples (including 2 women who have been together for 73 years!) getting married.
Hi Jean. It has been all so very emotion for both sides. I often think that if opposing sides could just hang out with one another — forget the divisive issue — but just see each other as people. I recently heard of a story of two men who met during a war. They were enemies and found themselves seeking shelter in the same place — each instructed to kill the other. One man, though, was injured — and his enemy went through his pockets, he found a photo of his family. The enemy became human, and so he helped him to survive. After the war, each man had emigrated from their respective countries — and by chance, they reunited in the lobby of a clinic that specialized in PTSD in their new country. Thanks for your kind words and Happy 4th!
That ruling was indeed a triumph! But reading the news articles made me feel…uneasy. There is an incredible amount of power invested in a group of nine unelected people.The rights of a large minority of Americans really came down to only one guy. And Alito’s statements in the dissenting opinion were blatantly political and religious – a tacit admission that the four dissenters could find no support for their opinion in the actual Constitution. Scary.
Hi Ann. Clearly, I agree and am thrilled with the decision — but it does pull to the forefront quite a slippery slope the separation of church and state. Since its birth, the United States has been a nation like no other — a hodgepodge of people who came together to make something, to have to exist beside one another. On paper, it sounds lovely. In reality, it takes work — and as we have become a hyphenated nation (_______-American), we seem to be retreating into our tribes. Still, I think we have more in common with one another. We just have to be willing to listen and hear, not half listen and yell. Thanks for your thoughts — and have a Happy 4th!
Ignorance is NOT bliss, but it certainly is alive and well, isn’t it?
I share your tears of joy and your tears of sadness.
Bravo to the Supreme Court — finally!
Bravo to you and Joe, Kevin!
Hi K. Thank you for your kind words and support in everything. You know, this blog wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for you. You planted that seed! Have a wonderful 4th of July!
You’re a sweetheart, Kevin. You just made my day. Have a wonderful 4th!
I’m so glad I didn’t miss this post, Kevin. You’ve shared a very personal perspective with wonderful clarity. We were out of town when the Supreme Court decision came through and I sort of did the opposite of you–I didn’t go on FB. I was so afraid I’d start reading comments and remarks that would be running much closer to your friend’s strongly held view of traditional marriage, and I just didn’t want to be confronted with that when I was so thrilled. I do agree with you that there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure acceptance of the Court’s decision. Someone I love very much is 81 years old and considering marrying her partner of more than 40 years. How can I be anything but thrilled. When I think what she has experienced and lived over 80 years, how thankful I am she lived to see this day. Your words have touched me very much, Kevin. And I hope you and Joe continue to celebrate this victory…it’s a BIG one. 🙂
Hi Debra. I love your friend’s story — and what a wonderful post for you to share, to record her perspective on what she’s been able to see in her life. It’s tremendous — and I’m always flabbergasted that there are people who cannot see the beauty of that relationship, but also the strength in two people who have remained together in the face of obstacles. That’s love, and that’s what it’s all about. Be well!