So all these people who know me, and my propensity for brooding-Swede depression, are worried about my emotional health, being back in sleepy, small Greencastle, Indiana, where there are about 8,000 adult residents, just a few restaurants, and a Wal-Mart. I loved living in New York so much. And developed some great friendships. Went to all those concerts. And classes. And presentations. And plays.
What am I going to do in Greencastle this summer (besides running a weekly concert series, playing on some concerts, cleaning out my mother’s house–and mine–and what not), they want to know. A difficult case of New-York-withdrawl, return-to-Greencastle syndrome is, obviously, widely predicted.
Today of course, is a day I would love to be in New York: the legislature passed the same-sex marriage bill last night, and Governor Cuomo signed it. Gay marriage has been affirmatively legalized. ”Gay marriage”–that’s really a kind of bullshit term. Civil Unions–those are a kind of second-class things, gay marriage that really isn’t.
What got passed in New York isn’t gay marriage; it’s really marriage for everyone. It’s the government acknowledging we all count.
When you grow up being harassed, called a faggot, believing that you’re a “faggot” and not a fully-human, “normal” person–well, it takes a lot of work to recover from that. Really, for some of us the emotional scars are always there, something you learn to live with but that never disappear.
So when something like this happens–when through the political process, even Republicans vote for equality–it’s not just a well, finally sort of reaction. Somewhere, deep inside, it feels like the State of New York saying, “Eric, you are equal. You are really one of us. You’re not a less-than-fully-human other.” Parts of me always know this. But there are parts I keep discovering that don’t. So it makes a difference. Not just to the thousands of couples who want to get married. But to all of us who are healing from centuries of being treated like shit. It’s great to be treated like a full human being with a full set of rights. And imagine the difference it makes for young people.
I would have loved to have been at Sheridan Square last night, with the anti-riot, celebratory crowd outside the Stonewall Inn. In late June of 1969, the harassed patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back against police oppression and an energy was unleashed that is culminating in the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the clearly inevitable establishment of equal marriage rights. Last night, late June of 2011, a big party, not a riot, outside the same bar, to celebrate a major accomplishment. That I would loved to have been part of, not just read about.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting on my front porch in Greencastle. It’s beautiful. Sunny day, not too hot, birds making a wonderful sound collage, with distant lawn mowers in the background.
My next-door neighbor and I made coffee for each other this morning: she with her relatively new espresso machine from Italy, me with my amazing Aeropress. Later, I walked to the courthouse square, bought food at the Farmer’s Market, and greeted old friends. Talked about how great the New York marriage news is with a (straight) colleague, who is excited as I am. Got invited to go to a basketball game in Indianapolis tonight, and am going with old friends and my son.
There’s a lot that’s wonderful here. Friends. Family. Soon, in August, students and engaging work.
I’m definitely OK.
And, on this Gay Pride weekend in New York, I more than kinda wish I was there to celebrate it in person.
Because today, more than ever, as beautiful and embracing and pretty and calm as Greencastle is, I really love New York.