In 2015, marriage equality was officially legalized and it was about damn time.
The legalization of marriage equality represents so much. After a long campaign in which we lost many painful battles, the often dreamed possibility became a reality, and millions of same-sex couples and their children had the legitimacy they should have had in the beginning.
But it means so much more.
Granted, some of our own aren't exactly happy about having the right to marry. Some claim that things like marriage is forcing the LGBT community into "conforming" to heteronormative behavior and roles. Some claim that our uniqueness as a community is falling by the wayside because we are attempting to "become" like heterosexual couples.
I don't know a thing about all of that. But this is what I do know.
Before I realized that I was gay, I had the usual dream of wanting to be married and having a family. But after I realized that I was gay, that dream dissipated because at that time, very few thought of gays having families and children. All of the messages drummed into me by society was the quite the opposite.
So my dream was destroyed. It wasn't that I decided not to go that direction. Someone had already decided to deny me what I felt should be a crucial part of my life's desire. Needless to say, it devastated me. It was a nasty message sent to me that because I am gay, I am inferior. That I don't get to pick my life's paths. That I was not worthy of having a family, nurturing or raising children -- not because I didn't prove myself of being capable -- but because someone else had already decided for me.
That message played a huge role in the depression which gripped me back then in college and it wasn't pretty. I wish I could say that now things have changed and that hurt of realizing just low I placed in the so-called pecking order of society disappeared when marriage equality became legal. But it hasn't.
Today, I'm 44-years-old and I am not pining for marriage. If it happens, great. If not, then I will be okay. But even now, there is a part of me who is still that young gay man with a void unfairly carved into his heart by the ignorance and religious self-righteousness of others and their audacity to make decisions about my life. I am still that young gay man who watched his heterosexual friends love, lose, cry and go through the rituals of having a relationship while silently hating them all with such a hot jealousy that I am ashamed to admit it even now.
And I'm confused. Am I okay with no longer having the dream of being married and having a family because I gave up a part of my soul in order to survive? Is there a small part inside of me so deeply hidden that hasn't completely rejected the message I was given as a young gay man, i.e. the message saying: "You're a fag. And fags don't have families, children or happy endings,"?
I don't know and I don't think that I ever will know. But at this juncture in my life, I take solace that younger LGBT people are no longer being told by society what I was told. I want our kids to have choices. If they want marriage, family and the stereotypical white picket fence life, then it's there for them. But if they don't want that, then that is also okay.
But it's their choice. No one has the right to deprive our LGBT kids of their desires or dreams of however direction they want to take their lives. And most importantly, no one has the right to inflict upon our children psychological scars which can continue to haunt them even as adults.