A Book Nerd's Guide To Marriage Equality
Hey party people. My name is Michelle Doering; full time lesbian & part time ukulele enthusiast. Today I’m going to drop some knowledge on you about why marriage equality is really freaking important, even if you don’t think it is.
In order to do that, I’m gonna have to talk to you about my favorite thing in the whole world, books.
PLEASE DON’T LEAVE. I PROMISE IT’S INTERESTING.
Why Marriage Equality Is Important
Books Are Better Than People
I have always been the kind of person who categorizes phases in their life through the books I was reading at the time.
There were the Goosebumps years & the Stephen King years & the Harry Potter & the Twilight years. There were years when I read nothing but yellowed & falling apart Teen Titans comics & there were years where I hardly read anything at all. (Those were particularly dark times).
The point is, reading is almost as integral to my own self-identity as my sexuality is. Thus making it incredibly fitting that one of the most defining moments of my lesbian existence has everything to do with books.
It was late June in the year 2015 (aka back when America was coming together more than it was falling apart) & gay marriage had just been legalized in all states. I remember feeling very happy & excited at the time, but my reaction was sort of dulled due to the fact that gay marriage had already been legalized in my home state of Arizona several months prior.
I knew that if my conservative red state could get it together enough to pass marriage equality, the rest of the country couldn’t be too far behind. Also, even though I was incredibly proud of our judicial system & thrilled for all of the couples who could now legally be married, I had never really considered myself the marrying type & therefore found myself less personally affected than I would have thought.
This leads us into the bookish part of the story.
Several days after the law passed I wound up in my favorite local bookstore—it’s this really hip & trendy shop with a book themed bar inside, really awesome stuff.
My friends & I were browsing, just hanging out & enjoying our time together before everyone had to go back to university in the fall. I was headed toward the young adult section (as that was the current reading phase at the time) & I stumbled across a huge display full of LGBT+ books & authors with a huge sign overtop of it reading #LoveIsLove in rainbow chalk.
I did what any rational twenty-year-old lesbian would have done.
I immediately burst into tears.
Looking back on it, I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Phoenix is a big city & the book shop was really up with the times (see the part about the bar), but I don’t think it was until that moment that I realized there were more people in this country who were with me than against me. I can’t remember ever feeling quite so secure in my sexuality.
Not only secure, but powerful. I felt like I could be & do anything & nothing could stand in my way. This was the America that I’d always loved & wanted to be a part of.
I couldn’t help but remember a time when tinier Michelle had to scavenge & pillage for any non-heteronormative books. A time where I shamefully looked them up on school computers with my heart racing, hoping my teachers wouldn’t see, & lugged them home from the library in my pink Scooby Doo backpack.
I remember feeling so lost & alone & embarrassed because of how difficult it was to find any characters who were like me. Now, here was a whole shelf full of them, set up in broad daylight & marketed toward children & adults alike.
I’d like to say that I used this moment as a bonding experience with my friends, but the truth is most of them are probably just learning about those tears right now while reading this. Even though I was experiencing a powerful well of emotions, I didn’t allow myself to linger on it for very long. I just grabbed a book off of the display, dried my eyes & went on with my day. But I still haven’t forgotten that quiet feeling of empowerment I felt that day in the middle of the bookstore. I doubt that I ever will.
But People Can Be Pretty Great Too
So, if you’re still here & you’re still reading this, here’s the takeaway for you. Being an LGBT+ individual is never going to be a walk in the park. There will always be horror stories & self-doubt & small-minded people, but there is also an absolutely magical sense of solidarity between us all. You are a part of something so much greater than yourself.
You are a part of a community bonded by the most powerful force in the world: Love.
(Just because it’s cheesy doesn’t make it any less true).
Marriage equality isn’t just about fairness. It’s about showing a world that can seem so scary & daunting to closeted young people (heck even some closeted adults) in a kind & accepting light. & I, for one, cannot wait until the day where every non-straight person on the face of the Earth can have that same ‘the world doesn’t hate me’ epiphany that I did that day in the bookstore.
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About The Author - Michelle Doering
Michelle Doering is a reader, writer, & self proclaimed “cool dude” from sunshine-y Phoenix, Arizona.
She loves cats, hails from the same high school as Alice Cooper, & thinks Wally West is a better Flash than Barry Allen will ever be. When she’s not watching cartoons & preaching about social injustice she can be found discussing books, comics, & other nerdy things on YouTube.