We had another one of our meetings, up in the attic of the little coffee shop we’ve all spent so much time in lately, and C was kind enough to share with us a little of her knowledge about the law, and how it relates to those of us in the LGBT community. I didn’t notice this, and I suppose it was because my own eyes had glazed over a bit themselves, but on our way out, the girl that I am dating mentioned how all of our faces got a sort of blank, glazed look on them about half way into the updates on marriage (we still can’t get married, and probably won’t be able to for some time now) and getting kicked out of our respective institutions (they still can kick us out, and probably will be able to for some time now).

Now don’t get me wrong, I am deeply grateful for the information C provided us with, because how can we even begin to hope to change situations if we don’t even know what the situations really are. But it was hard, because I forget. After having spent my entire life with most opportunities available to me (and my deep thanks go to the feminist movement for that), I keep forgetting that it is really not the case anymore. And it is incredibly hard to remember that I am supposed to be grateful now when people make some sort of response to me that indicates they are still going to recognize my humanity, even though I’m a lesbian. I forget that for them, recognizing my humanity is often a big and gracious step that they view as pretty radical, and all I seem to be able to remember is that I have been alive my entire life, and so my humanity does not seem all that radical to me.

And so sometimes, I get angry inside, even when they are trying their hardest to be kind and generous. Take, for example, my roommate the other night. Now, I have been overwhelmed with gratitude as how accepting she has been of me since I came out to her, and I really am truly, deeply grateful, but a couple of nights ago we were just joking around in the kitchen with my little dog, and I told her: “I really am glad it turned out that you like my dog, because it would have been really terrible if you didn’t!” And she laughed and replied: “yeah, but what you should be really grateful for is that I’m not a homophobe, that would have been terrible.” And she is right, and I am grateful… I just forget sometimes. Ok, I forget a lot of the times… because I am just not used to having my dignity be such a tenuous thing, up for debate at almost every turn.

As we were leaving the coffee shop after Sunday’s meeting, the girl that I am dating mentioned how the whole time we had all been sitting up there, looking a little defeated and numb around the edges, she’d had this song from Rent playing in her head… the one that goes, over and over again, “Will I lose my dignity, will someone care? Will I wake tomorrow, from this nightmare?” And so that song ran through my head the rest of the day, and the two of us have been singing it intermittently ever since, because I think on some level, that is the question we are all asking: Will we lose our dignity? And if and when that happens, will someone care? If I do decide to start a family one day, will it ever be recognized and protected by the law? What happens if my school decides that I no longer have a place at their table, and where will I go if they force me to leave? Will people ever understand the cutting potential of their careless words when they make assumptions about how my sexuality must necessarily mean that I have lost something of the innocence and potential they once saw in me?

The truth is that I think the answer is yes, at some point, we will all lose our dignity in ways that will be startlingly painful. And yet, we have shown that even in the midst of all if this, in the face of opposition and criticism and persecution, we will not lose our faith….and I have to believe that that is something. In fact, I really believe that it is everything.

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