The day after the seismic change that made people like us recognized as equal under the law, my honey and I took a walk in the busy Asheville Arboretum. We held hands. It was something we’ve done in public before but I was completely astonished at how different it felt, how free I felt, how being legally recognized changed my experience of holding hands.
In the wake of the overturning of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) last June, many lower courts ruled against bans on marriage equality. On October 7, 2014, the Supreme Court decided not to consider the appeals cases from states where the courts have struck down bans, thus effectively making gay marriage legal in more than half of the United States, including North Carolina where I make my home. As soon as the local ruling came down that NC Amendment One was unconstitutional, marriage licenses began to be issued to waiting gay couples. Many brought ministers to perform their ceremonies right there on the steps of the office of the Register of Deeds. The dominoes had dropped, the obstacles abruptly fell away, the many colors of love were upheld under the law at last. As a gesture of honor, the Asheville City Council approved the draping of a two-story rainbow flag across the City Hall.
It was the day after all this jubilation that my love and I strolled the Arboretum holding hands. In a socially witnessed context, the shame that had been socially induced– was lifted! This new context was dizzying. Dazed by change, knocked for a loop by a renewal of optimism in change itself, I held hands with my love. It felt for once, as if we had the right to do so, the right to be who we are. A chain that once squashed love into a tight narrow band was shattered. The release of hidden love into the public world added such brightness to that world as to be dazzling! I experienced our sense of freedom, in showing we were a couple in the Arboretum, as adding its necessary drop to Freedom in the wide world. It was October 11, National Coming Out Day. Surely, this was a coming out of Love itself.