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.