I hope that someday no children will have to grow up living in fear of the enormous love their hearts hold.
Since becoming a parent, when anything big happens in the news—good or bad—I immediately think of how it will affect my kids. The news that the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage for all 50 states brought big, fat tears of joy to my eyes. I cried not only for the countless men and women who will finally have the rights and respect they deserve, but also for what it means for my children, and the whole generation of kids growing up now.
I remember all those years ago, when I was a senior in high school—practically a child myself—and my dear friend told me he was gay. We were sitting in his parked car, tears streaming down his face. But his were tears of fear and anguish. I was one of just a few kids at our school he was telling, and I was sworn to secrecy. What would happen if anyone at school found out? What about his parents? He took a drag on his cigarette. I wrapped my arms around him, wordless, scared for him, knowing all I could do was love him, and hope for the best.
I knew then and there that I would do the same for my children if they ever told me they were gay—I would hold them in my arms, and tell them I loved and accepted them. But back then, I wasn’t sure love from a few supporters was good enough for gay children, teenagers, women, and men. I was scared for my friend, and for anyone coming out then—professing their feelings, their love to a world that didn’t always love them back.
As the years went by, other friends of mine came out. With each year that passed, it appeared easier to do so; the culture was softening a little, becoming a little more accepting. There were gay characters on television. Gay celebrities. It became “politically correct” to love and acknowledge gay couples as normal.
And yet, alongside these stories were the stories of gays being bullied, beaten, killed. When I thought of my own children—all of the children yet to be born—entering a world where this type of brutality still goes on, I got so fucking angry and scared.
I don’t know yet if either of my sons is gay. And I can’t know now if either of them will decide to marry a partner at all, gay or straight. But it is likely that my kids will someday wonder about or question their sexuality or gender identity; and as they grow up they will know gay children, couples, and families—they already do.
I know that the Supreme Court decision is not going to extinguish the hate that still exists. I know that if my children—any children of their generation—come out as gay, they will still struggle more than other children to embrace and celebrate their sexuality. Schoolyard teasing will still involve derogatory slurs against gay people, and kids will be bullied (or worse) for their perceived sexuality, whether they are gay or not.
Still, the legalization of gay marriage is huge because of its statement about what America stands for. And it is monumental in improving the lives of countless men and women across America. There is much more work to be done in terms of changing people’s hearts, making our country safer and more inclusive of gay couples. But this historic court ruling is a bright beginning. A seed has been planted for my children, for their children, and onward.
I hope that our children will grow up knowing that love—no matter what it looks like—is real and deserves equal respect. I hope they will know that the institutions governing and protecting our citizens do not distinguish between straight couples or gay couples—married or not. I hope they will know that having two moms or two dads is just as normal as having a mom and a dad. I hope they will know that gender roles are flexible, not prescriptive—that men can be sensitive and nurturing, women can be courageous and tough, boys can like pink and girls can like blue.
I hope most of all that violence in any form against gay people will be seen by all children as a reprehensible, heinous crime. I hope any boy or girl—gay or straight—who dreams of a wedding day will feel a sense of genuine hope and possibility. And I hope that someday no children will have to grow up living in fear of the enormous love their hearts hold.
Wendy Wisner is a mom, writer, and lactation consultant (IBCLC). She is the author of two books of poems (CW Books), and her writing has appeared in such publications as The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Brain, Child Magazine, Scary Mommy, and Mamalode. She lives in New York with her husband and two sons. Find Wendy at WendyWisner.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo courtesy of the author.