Goodbye, 2013. It was a good year for lesbians in the US, with marriage equality established in so many new states (starting with Maryland), and with DOMA being struck down by the Supreme Court. And it was a good year for me and Marisol, as we got married for the third and probably the last time.
I know a lot of other lesbian couples who’ve experienced multiple marriages. And there are still a lot of my friends who are experiencing the schizophrenia of being married federally but not locally. These are the long-time couples who leave their Florida or Georgia homes and take a little vacation in New York City, announcing their marriages obliquely on facebook.
There are still other rights and protections that we gay people need, but marriage rights are a huge piece of the puzzle. After all, what sets us apart is our choice of partner. Of course, gender identity questions are connected to this as well, but hey, they’re connected to everything. To me, gender stereotypes and misogyny are the most basic sources of social dysfunction, along with racism.
But what makes you gay is the romantic, emotional and sexual connection to someone matching your gender, regardless of who you each are as individuals. And so when this attachment is seen as legitimate, we’ve won this particular battle.
And, yes, I know that the level of suffering has risen for gay people in Nigeria, Uganda and Russia. I know that same-sex relationships must still be hidden in many parts of the world, as well as in parts of the U.S. There are still people who don’t dare to love, for fear of losing their jobs, alienating their communities, or being turned out from their families. But still I’m heartened by the progress we’ve made, enormously heartened. And I say that 2013 has brought us further along, further towards winning this battle, than any year in U.S. history.
Love is an enormous healing force. When humans have the right to love – without being mistreated or harassed around it, without having to deny or hide it – then there’s a rush of well-being that travels like a soft wind, and affects everyone, no matter their political stance. Unhappy people are unhappy parents, children, siblings, neighbors, workers, drivers, shoppers, cops, teachers, lawyers, doctors, and salespeople - and if you’re next in line, you may be the person who gets the brunt of that misery. There is really no down side to providing safe passage for love.
And what about 2014? How does the coming year look for gay people, and for all people?
Neptune continues in its own sign - the gentle, spiritual sign Pisces, where it’s been since early in 2012 - and this is about blurring boundaries and erasing divisions between people. I think Neptune’s sign has had a lot to do with the burgeoning acceptance of the right to love freely. Historically, gay relationships have required a great expertise in sleight of hand, and Neptune is the planet of magicians and shape-shifters.
So I think these trends will continue, and perhaps the most homophobic countries will experience a gentling of attitudes as 2014 goes on. Neptune in Pisces also indicates a rise in spiritual awareness, and this has nothing to do with established religion. Pisces has more to do with the barefoot saint, the holy ones who see beyond the sharp angles of the material world. Look at our current Pope, who stresses the truly spiritual qualities of humility and acceptance, rather than the power, control and stern judgment associated with the office.
However, there are definitely some hard edges to the coming year. The changes begun in 2011 and 2012 will continue to manifest, sometimes in abrupt and controversial ways, as the Uranus/Pluto square is still strong in the coming year. This gives a revolutionary urge to dismantle existing structures. This breaking-down process can doesn’t always lead to any kind of liberation, and sometimes the effects are tragic. And sometimes it means that the existing powers find stronger defenses for their corporate and governmental institutions.
Uranus is in Aries, the sign of individuality and direct action, while Pluto's sign, Capricorn, stands for the power of government and corporations. So there’s a David and Goliath feel to the situation, with the brave individual and the powerful giant.
On the one hand, it’s the primeval struggle between father and son for power, a basic theme in patriarchy. On a broader level, it’s the process of dismantling all tight, limiting structures for newer and freer systems. The danger is that in a violent reach for power, only the strongest survive, and then the new systems they create tend to be more repressive than before.
In the world we live in, the US is seen by many as a behemoth, an arrogant and unconscious power. This encourages young men to become the Hero of the story, to become David, even when the sacrifice is the ultimate one. This is when it becomes obvious that both the brave individual hero and the giant institution are male entities, and so this is a father/son fight. We all know that more women in the picture corresponds to less posturing, and moves us all closer to compromise and peace.
Is the US a behemoth, an ugly giant? This country’s saving grace is the ebb and flow of democracy, which prevents it from becoming totally calcified. With this, it becomes more responsive to the voices of women, people of color, gay people, and immigrants. However, it incurs the wrath of those white men who call themselves the Tea Party, and who would rather drown democracy than share power with those who are unlike them. Like the terrorists throwing themselves against the walls of this institution, they are also funded by men who maintain a strong but rigid structure.
Where is the true individualism? Where do we see it? It doesn’t show up much in the newspapers, or in the shifting balance between the larger powers. We will have to look closely to see it in 2014, but it will be there. And of course, as always, the best place to look is within.
And for gay people, as we become freer to love, we are freer within ourselves. What do we do with this freedom? What do we do with this newfound strength? It can be such a relief to blend in, to be like everyone else, to be accepted, and we may not feel the need to go out and get involved in any kind of social or political struggle. And yet, as long as we live in a world of dueling patriarchies, none of us are safe.
The challenge in 2014 will be to recognize how much our lives are woven into certain larger structures, while at the same time recognizing that constant spark of freedom within ourselves. We have the right to think for ourselves, and to act for ourselves. But in everything we do, interconnecting structures are formed, undermined, and formed again. Let us do this consciously.
And so happy new year! May 2014 be a year of peace, of growing understanding between us all. May we spread our love around. May we love many.