Why I'm Grateful to Be Gay This Thanksgiving

lesbian couple kissing in garden.
lesbian couple kissing in garden.

For all of us out there wanting Thanksgiving to be about more than hyper-consumerism, gluttony, and awkward conversations with homophobic family members (see Saturday Night Live's solution), there's much to be grateful for, especially if you're LGBT.

This is the first Thanksgiving when our love is officially and legally recognized all across the country. Whether you're sitting around the table with Aunt Jane and Uncle Bob in Topeka or Tallahassee, you've got the federal government on your side when they launch into their ignorant diatribe.

I remember the days when my now wife and I were introduced as roommates to the extended in-laws from small towns with equally small minds. And we're talking 2009 -- not 1979. Now, there's no mistaking the matching wedding bands on our ring fingers and no one would dare deny us that acknowledgement (even if they quietly object).

And that's the point -- everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they're not allowed to discriminate. It's easy to forget that just six months ago, there wasn't one crazy county clerk denying couples marriage licenses; there were thousands. Because the law had their backs.

Now that we've earned our decades-fought right to equal marital protections under the law, the haters are quieter. They don't have the power of the law in their arsenal. They will have to lower their voices from a yell to a whimper, and eventually -- hopefully -- they will quiet altogether.

It's empowering to be able to face the same dumb comments we've heard over holiday tables past and to be able to point to concrete legal and societal examples that show they're wrong. We always had the right sightlines; we just never had the ammunition. While ignorance and hate are still prevalent, for trans women of color in particular, those closed mindsets are becoming more and more marginalized and public opinion polls indicate an increasingly informed and accepting general public. For those who are still extreme right-leaning, there are indications that even they're tired of making our issues their central platforms and are realizing that equal rights don't actually harm them in any way.

I fully recognize that many don't have biological families to go home to this Thanksgiving because they were rejected for being LGBT. Hopefully those numbers are shrinking. The emergence and increasing prevalence of "Friendsgiving" is also an encouraging alternative. I've seen more references to the adapted holiday where you gather around the table with your found family this year than ever before. Why trudge hundreds of miles to visit people who don't accept you when you can break bread with the people you choose to engage with who love you for you are?

I'm grateful because when I say I'm going to my in-laws for Thanksgiving, I feel a surge of pride. How many people throughout the history of all Thanksgivings have taken that for granted? How many straight people have married without a second thought about the rights and privileges they're entitled to? How many LGBT people have desperately wanted to sit around a warm table filled with food and share laughter and love with their partner's family, but geographic location or history denied them that opportunity?

Whether you're traipsing to visit family or holding your own gathering with your created family -- your lover, your best friend, your cat, your next door neighbor -- let us project gratitude above all else. There's hope that as our laws start to change to secure equality, so too are our attitudes. I hope that means more LGBT people will feel safe and included this Thanksgiving. For that, I give thanks.