*Spoilers for Modern Family Season Finale below*
This morning, I heard that Pennsylvania became the 19th state to legalize same-sex marriage after a federal judge ruled the former ban unconstitutional. Then tonight, I had the pleasure of watching one of my favorite, fictional gay couples tie the knot on the Modern Family season finale. And as I watched Cam and Mitch walk happily down the aisle, all I could think was, “Why does this still bother so many people?”
I made my first gay friends (that I knew about) back in middle school, and it was at this time that I also realized that gender didn’t really limit whether I had feelings of attraction for someone or not. It was a scary time because I was only beginning to realize how much more difficult life can be when you aren’t heterosexual. I thought about my own family and how they would never understand that I might one day fall in love with another woman, that maybe someday I would want her to be my girlfriend, my fiance, my wife. I still recall the first time I told anyone I was bisexual. It was an e-mail written over the summer to my three best girl friends, and they all wrote back supportively telling me that it was okay, that it wouldn’t affect our friendships in the slightest.
A few years later when I got to high school, my mother found a note from a female friend of mine who had a crush on me. The confrontation was less than pleasant. I’m pretty sure I recall being told I was possessed by the devil himself. I was forbidden from speaking to my friend and the issue was never brought up again. That night, I cried and cried and couldn’t understand what it was I had done wrong.
It was only later that I would realize that I hadn’t done anything wrong at all. Months later, I would have my first girlfriend, an awesome, energetic gal who would become one of my best friends later in life. It was a short-lived relationship that I had to hide from my family to the point of destroying any chance of it actually working out. But I guess that’s for the best because she met the love of her life and got married not long ago in what appears to have been the fairytale wedding of her dreams. And because Florida doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, she and her partner had to fly out of state to do it. I missed the most important day of one of my best friend’s life because some conservative assholes are uncomfortable with two men or two women falling in love and wanting to share their lives together.
Ever since Proposition 8 happened in California back in 2008, I’ve been a big supporter of the push for marriage equality. Back then I wasn’t even considering marriage myself, but that didn’t mean I didn’t realize how important this was to our society as a whole. Not only for my gay friends, but for every person, gay or straight. Marriage equality affects us all, even if not directly. Some people ask me why I care so much about whether or not gay people can get married. This is because I could have very well been that gay woman who wanted to marry her partner but couldn’t no matter how hard she wished for it. Legislation doesn’t come from wishing on stars. It comes from activism, from making your voice heard to the lawmakers, voting in the right people, raising awareness.
Two years ago, I met a man with whom I fell in love and we had a whirlwind courtship and a quick, civil wedding. We didn’t have to think about whether we would be able to get married or not, or whether people would accept it or not, or who would actually recognize our marriage as legal. Being straight right now affords you that luxury. So why can’t it be the same way for the LGBTQ folks of the world? Why do we have to exclude some people from something if they want to do it and it won’t actually harm anyone else?
Watching the Modern Family wedding episode was great because it poked fun at all the b.s. that religious zealots want us to believe. That bad things will happen if gays marry. Cam and Mitch’s wedding gets moved over and over again thanks to a fire, and then a double-booking for a venue. At one point there are bugs (locusts) attacking them. Everything that could go wrong seems to be going wrong. Even Jay says something about their wedding not being a part of “God’s plan”. But they stay strong. They both really just want to get married despite it all. They’d been planning it for months and they weren’t going to let all the setbacks get to them. And then something happens. Despite his prejudices, which he makes known time and again throughout the show, Jay realizes he can’t let his son get married in their apartment, with half their wedding party sitting outside and 3/4s of the wedding band missing. He finally accepts his son, and his soon to be son-in-law, and brings them into his world – the country club – to have their wedding there, in front of all his friends. And of course, the real tearjerker happened when he walks Mitch down the aisle.
Why can’t people just come around like that? Why are some people so hardened by their hate, their lack of understanding? I only started watching Modern Family a few months ago but it’s quickly become a favorite of mine because they do exemplify a lot of what modern families are looking like. Sure, they could use more people of color/non-white-people on the show (aside from the surprisingly hilarious Sofia Vergara/Gloria, Rico Rodriguez/Manny and Aubrey Anderson-Emmons/Lily…I mean seriously, where are all the black people?), but it’s still pretty great.
There were plenty of things to watch on television tonight (or not that many, depending on your taste), but all I can hope is that some unwittingly homophobic person tuned in and was possibly touched by it. Or that some young (or not so young), still closeted gay person saw it and realized that progress is being made. Maybe someone in Pennsylvania watched it and got inspired to propose to their girlfriend or boyfriend, because they know they can finally get married there too, even if they still have a homophobic father or uncle or neighbor. Because it’s not going to end with Pennsylvania and it’s not going to end with Modern Family. Every day, progress is being made. Every day, we’re closer to marriage equality for all and I, for one, can’t wait.