“I can’t make it,” I accompanied my lie with a fake smile, relieved at yet another wedding I would miss. It’s not personal. It’s just another wedding to avoid. We are good friends, since high-school, and it’s almost hard to believe that friendships like that still exist. Even though I would do anything else for her, a wedding is just too much. But she wouldn’t understand that, so I lied.
We live in a free world. This is not the same world as it was 200 years ago, or even 50. We live in a free country. Everyone can vote here, everyone can drive, work, enlist, and walk outside at any time of the night. It might sound ridiculous, but this was not always the case. Looking back just 60 years ago, women couldn’t even vote in the US. 70 years ago Jews couldn’t work in certain positions in certain places in Europe. Even these days, some places you still can’t do anything you wish.
I’ve known for years. I think on some level I have always known. Somethings aren’t real until you say them out loud, but this was always real and not real at the same time. Everyone knows that I’m gay, but knowing is not understanding. The problem begins when people mix the two. Why is it so hard to say, “I don’t understand?” Do people think it makes them look better when they pretend to understand? I know you don’t. I always know.
We take freedom for granted. We act like we have earned everything we are entitled to. Worse, we act like people who don’t have the same privileges as we do don’t deserve them. If they can’t do something – it’s their fault. We act like we fought for our rights, and no, your great great grandfather doesn’t count.
They don’t understand why I feel like I’m living in a prison. They point out the fact that I can do anything, except get married. “So? Who cares? It’s just that one thing!” They dismiss me. Apparently, they have never been denied an opportunity that is exercised by others right in front of them before, so they don’t understand what “can’t” really means. How heavy it is to carry that “can’t” every single day, year in year out. These “can’ts” are so heavy sometimes I can feel the red marks they leave on my shoulders, so I put on a jacket. People don’t actually want to see the ugly marks those “can’ts” leave. In theory, everything is easier, so don’t make things ugly with the truth, please. Thank you.
We favor ideas over people, we believe that our beliefs are more important than people. We think we live in a free world, but that is maybe just because we are free. Certain books and certain people are just worth more. We don’t see it, maybe because we hold this higher value. But it’s ok because we’ve earned it.
A “can’t” is like a flood; it spreads so fast you don’t see it coming. The “can’t” becomes “can’ts” faster than lightning turns to a storm. Last week I couldn’t get married here, now I can’t adopt. “Getting married isn’t everything”, “you don’t need to get married! You’ll break up eventually anyhow”, “but you’re not EXACTLY her mother too”. You say that I don’t need that can’t, but the truth is, you don’t want me to have it. You don’t want me to get married because you think I shouldn’t be married. You still think that marriage is just for men and women, and that nothing else could fit in that mold. Well, guess what, cookies come in all shapes and sizes, and so does love.
We think we deserve our rights so much, that we now think we can decide to give those rights to others as well. Equal rights should be given to everyone, bar none. Having a right that someone else doesn’t, does not make you better. It is not a game to choose who gets freedom, what kind, and when. Freedom is not a privilege, given only to those who meet the standards, and it is up to us to make sure freedom is given unconditionally. If we don’t stop the can’ts we are the ones who create the can’ts.
Note from the author:
I started writing this article a few months ago because the issue of gay rights is something I care about. Last week, my government passed a law stating that from now on, gay couples can’t adopt kids. This issue is always relevant, and always alive. we cannot forget that.