i have known, and been in love with, brian for about six years now. we got married, the two of us, under a big tree: the ceremony took place in missouri, and it was hot, even for september. brian and i love each other both in public and in private: i kiss him, certainly, before i leave the house and i tell him i love him before bed, when it is just the two of us, content and alone and drifting. but i have kissed him, too, at the grocery store, and i have kissed him on campus, and i have placed my hand on top of his at almost every restaurant in madison, and i do these things absentmindedly, perhaps as easily as i breathe in and then breathe out. and nobody objects. when brian and i got married beneath that tree, our loved ones looked on, and smiled. nobody protested. and when i grabbed brian’s hand on the sidewalk in madison yesterday, nobody stared. because people do not object — have never objected — to this kind of love.
there is courage in this kind of love, certainly. i practice no religion, but: to love brian is to have faith — that our commitment to each other lasts, that we remain healthy and happy, that the two of us continue to bring each other joy. after all, who knows?
i am awed, each day, by those who love in the face of objection and rejection and protest. i am awed by their courage and their determination. i am awed by their sacrifice. what happened in orlando was, without question, an attempt to silence them. to punish them. to terrorize them. to keep them hidden. and the vast majority of us, i imagine, cannot — could not — possibly imagine.
but if our society — if our communities and our laughter and our children and the things that bring us joy — is great, it is because these individuals continue on. have you noticed? can you imagine the strength it takes? to make art. to write. to live, and to bask, in the sun. to teach. to dance, to dance. they are alive and they cannot — and they will not — be made afraid.
to my friends who are reeling, and to my friends who are afraid, and to my friends who hurt: i see you, and i stand with you. i see you, and you matter. i see you, and i care. everything within me that is good and alive and creative, i owe, in part, to you. i do not learn — we do not learn — from those who attempt to terrorize and silence. i learn — we learn — from the courageous. from those who, day after day after day after day, wake up and still feel something — curiosity and determination and hope and everything in between — within themselves.
i see you, and i love you.