August 07, 2015

Something Wild Inside My Head

Something wild happened inside my head today.

I spent the morning with my parents at Pennswood Village, a seriously well-appointed Quaker retirement community that was one of the stops on their "NOW where should we live?" tour.

We had a great visit, and on my drive to work (I'd told my office that I'd be in for the latter part of the day), I started thinking about what it would be like if we were to live at Pennswood Village when the time came to downsize and simplify. I let that daydream roll on for a while as I drove up Route 1 and cut over to 27, soaking up sun and rooting for the traffic lights to turn green so that I could just keep rolling.

When I got back to my office, still thinking about retirement choices, I remembered a conversation I'd been privy to, not so many years ago, about how maddeningly wrong it was that some retirement communities - even some of the Quaker ones - would charge gay and lesbian couples the higher "singles living together" rates rather than the more affordable "married living together" rates. Was Pennswood one of those places? I think it was maybe Stapeley, up in Germantown? I haven't lived in Pennsylvania for almost 20 years now, and retirement is still a distant dream, so I'd never gotten the full update on which places had which policies. 

Then I went through a familiar chain of thoughts... should I have asked someone at Pennswood about their policies towards LGBT retirees while I was there and had the chance? Or would that have been a "this is neither the time nor the place" situation, since it was my (cis & straight) parents who were researching their options? Should the possibility of someone else's discomfort ever be enough to silence me? Might there be times when I just need to be "off duty" as a social justice activist?

And then, maybe two hours after I'd left Pennswood, I suddenly thought, "Wait. Wait. Wait a minute! None of this matters anymore. Marriage is marriage now. That whole "find out if their fee structure acknowledges the reality of your relationship" thing is a thing of the past."


When I told my now-spouse this story, she, too, had the "marriage is marriage now" epiphany only when I got to that part of the story.

And THIS, my friends, is what spending our entire adult lives living out identities which are actively discriminated against has done to our imaginations. We're flinchy. We've got our guard up. We prepare for battle. We forget.

Now, on this issue at least, we get to experience a rush of remembrance, and feel our arms drop slowly to our sides.

I want so badly for all victims of discrimination to someday have this experience of watching at least some of the scaffolding that held up prejudice get pushed off the edge of a cliff. 

It's a long fall, and a pretty satisfying sound when it cracks wide open. 

Marriage will still be many things to many people, but it will never be used as a weapon against me. Not now. Not anymore. Never again.

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