If there is one thing I have learned as a working writer – notably one who writes for the Internet – it is that this climate is so conducive to constant complaining. So many of us are urged to reflect more what has yet to be done as opposed to what’s happening or what has literally just happened. Small victories are often dismissed as not being enough. In many cases, big victories aren’t always enough either.
However, if there is one thing I have struggled with throughout my life, it is knowing when to lavish in the moment and not obsess over what comes next.
There is a difference between not being content with the status quo and constantly moving the goal post to the point that you can never truly embrace progress. With that in mind, I take great pride in the historic moment that has taken place in my lifetime. I have struggled with the idea of marriage due of the examples of it in my life, but I have since challenged myself to see the possibilities. Now, it is a prospect that is real and attainable thanks to last week’s Supreme Court ruling that has made marriage equality nationwide. I will not play down this moment. Too many people have worked hard to make this happen.
Yes, some are right in their suspicions that our Black faces were likely not in the minds of many of the White LGBT members who worked toward this dream, but it’s a reward that we can now each share all the same. I respect my friends and colleagues who feel conflicted over how to be happy that they can marry, but fear that they or their brothers and sisters can easily have their lives snatched away before ever getting to that point. I understand the frustration over erasure, too.
I recognize all the continued struggles we have to fight, but I am not willing to allow our pain to cloud a cause celebration. You can be critical without falling into cynicism. You can be vocal about what still needs to happen without shouting over what just did. You can do all these things and promise to fight tomorrow.
But, but, but: you can and should celebrate the present. Sometimes tomorrow feels like eternity and I wish more people – self-included – had a better appreciation for what happens in the here and now. I am actively working to be better about it. I am using this ruling to further push myself towards that goal.
My first introduction to gay life was death. I saw AIDS by the first grade, and I have written, and will soon write in a broader narrative by way of a book, just how devastating and paralyzing that was for me. My uncle died when I was six, and for a long time, that is all I knew what being gay could be. Now, thanks to the work of so many people of every hue and the Supreme Court, my six-year-old niece will have a different vision. She now knows Uncle Mikey can get married.
And her older sister and my mini-me will probably have a say in who that person is. I revel in the fact that I can talk to her about boys, which is something another gay relative in my life has never done with me. He’s seen me and I’ve seen him, but nothing has ever been said. I’m sure he has his reasons. I have my reasons for being so frank with my eldest niece, now a teenager: I want her to know exactly who her uncle is. I want her to see and love me wholly.
Perhaps it should not take marriage for gay life to be normalized, but as of now, that is how things are. We can work together on changing that later. In the meantime, my heart and my happiness are where they need to be: in the moment.
And what a joyous one it is.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem, and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him @youngsinick.