Thank You, Minnesota

Lately, I have been thinking about fridges. My own fridge is white with brown handles, and is rather traditional. Growing up, I would often proudly display my drawings and paintings, report cards and invitations, collages and college acceptance letters on the fridge, but now I only display pictures drawn by my nephews or wedding invitations. Until yesterday, I hadn't posted a report card on my fridge in close to a decade.

Fridges don't often occupy the minds of many Americans, though we use them every day. Fridges hold our fruits and vegetables, our soy milk and sauerkraut; fridges contain a multitude of things. So I have been thinking about fridges.

I've been thinking about fridges because since May 13th I have smiled each time I open my fridge. What's on it? The "report card" from the Minnesota state Senate and their votes that allowed the passage of same-sex marriage, signed into law on May 14th by Governor Mark Dayton. I was at the capitol. I was there to hear the chanting, the singing, the hopes and prayers of hundreds present -- and millions not -- hoping that Minnesota would take the next step to be a beacon of affirmation for the LGBT community. This issue, even more than fridges, is important to me.

I spent my childhood growing up wandering through wheat fields and along the creek that flowed behind our backyard in rural North Dakota. I grew up painting, playing baseball, and fishing with my grandpa. I grew up with a sense of place and a sense of myself. Eventually I realized I wasn't like the other boys in my class. I didn't want to go on dates with girls, I didn't want to play football. I wanted to be creative and explore the creative arts, and in my small town that made things difficult.

Eventually we moved, and I then went on to college, being the first in my family to obtain college and graduate degrees. And in some ways this makes me -- outside of my sexuality -- different from my other family members. The benefit, outside of classroom learning, in my time spent in school was the education to myself of who I really am: I'm Taylor -- I like fishing, reading, drinking wine, church, conversation, waterways, and men. I'm gay. I can say that and not feel awkward. I can say that and know I'm helping to bring others along, maybe even helping them reshape their viewpoints.

On May 13th my viewpoint was changed. My viewpoint was humbled. For a while now I have believed I have been fighting an "us versus them" battle; a battle for a basic human right: The right to marry the person I love. At the capitol I saw people I will never know -- mothers and fathers, gay people and straight people, young people and old people -- all of them expressing their views on my right to marry. Of course there were people present who think differently than I do, but that is another beautiful part of democracy: we were all there together.

I spent the day with friends, and I made new friends, too. Kim and Nancy, who have been together for over 25 years, along with their friends Gingy and Tom, helped pass the time and filled it with wonderful conversation and stories. I was able to see a two year-old child, the daughter of two women, with light-up shoes, hold a sign saying she supported marriage equality. I was able to see such creative signs that read, "Three words to help the economy: Gay Bridal Registry"; "Marriage Equality? Gopher It!" (Goldy the Gopher is the University of Minnesota's mascot); "I'm the parent of a gay son and I support marriage equality!"

Even as I write this I am moved to tears. Why did I say my viewpoint was humbled? It was humbled because for so long I have viewed this as a fight, a fight that sometimes makes me lament the broken world I live in, a fight that leaves me frustrated, angry, and sad that there are people that I will never meet who think I am less than them. I am humbled because when the vote was announced, and when we knew it passed, I said, "I want to know who voted for our side." A lesbian in front of me turned around and said, "Honey, we're all on the same side now." That is humbling.

I am not naive enough to know that the passing of this legislation makes everything sunshine and rainbows, of course it doesn't. What I hope it does is bear witness to young people that there is a future here for them in Minnesota, that there is a place where all people can get married, where we are continually working to be more inclusive, more open, and a little more whole.

Yesterday affirmed that great Whitmanian sentiment that we all contain multitudes -- multitudes for love, for compassion, and for a belief in a better tomorrow. May 13th's vote, to me, represented a covenant with the future, a covenant that promises that all can marry the partner they love, that in the future we will be remembered for choosing love, for choosing to affirm other's humanity and dignity, and that we are all on the same side -- the side of love.

And that brings me back to fridges. My fridge now displays a white sheet of paper, listing the names of those who did and did not vote in favor of marriage equality. It sits where it has always sat in my house, constant, cool, and containing a multitude of different foods. I now view my fridge differently, and the world views me differently, too.

Thank you, Minnesota.