We Were Strangers Once

half-mast
Almost exactly one year ago, same-sex marriage became legal nationwide. I know some LGBT folks were less than thrilled about this “mainstreaming” — as if by gaining the same rights as heterosexual couples, something vital was diluted or absorbed by convention. I disagreed; I want my cake and to eat it, too, thank you very much.

Something I keep coming back to since Sunday is this: We will always be other. No matter how equal by law, no matter how protected on paper, no matter how seemingly safe by virtue of geography or community, as a woman who loves — and is legally married to — another woman, as a woman who loves a genderqueer woman, as the mother of kids who may or may not identify as straight or use the bathroom of their biological gender, my family is other.

That means “other” is also my family.

I say this proudly, with grief, gravity, and most of all, love so big it doesn’t even know where to start. So today I am starting again right here, right now, refusing to feed or spread the disease of attacking each other’s other that’s eating us, collectively and individually, alive. I will not divide and conquer. I refuse to contribute to these knowingly — and hope not to unknowingly.

I don’t think I can read anything else Trump says. Like, ever. As Mani pointed out to me last night, what difference will it make?

People of color have seen these days before and continue to see them, live them, every single day — no matter “how far we’ve come.” Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people have seen these days before and still live them every day, no matter “how far we’ve come.” My Muslim friends are afraid, and with good reason.

So what can I do? What must I do?

I can and must remember that the Jewish people, my people, have seen these days before, and we must never ever forgot how the Holocaust happened. It happened like this.

I can and must take full responsibility for my own privilege as an educated white woman.

I can and must call senators and sign petitions and go to vigils.

I can and must hold space for people’s stories to coming pouring out without fear of judgment or repercussion.

I can and must say the victims’ names. Look at their faces. Read about who they were. And also make room to just be quiet — which is different from being silent. Families and loved ones are grieving amidst so much noise and chaos.

I can and must stop to smell the flowers, love my family near and far, welcome the stranger for we were strangers once, and write from an imperfect, searching heart.

That’s all I got.

7 thoughts on “We Were Strangers Once

  1. Deborah says:

    “…..love so big it doesn’t even know where to start…”

    I believe The Holy One sends us to this earthly life with special tasks to complete. Perhaps yours (and mine, and everyone else) is to practice this love. Love so big that it includes all.

    Liked by 1 person

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