The Right to Love and Be Loved

I attended two weddings a week apart last September. Both were beautiful celebrations of each couple’s love. What struck me was the contrast between the two events. Betty and Chris are lesbians and had a Chicago Blackhawks-themed affair. Nick and Jacquie are straight and had a traditional fairytale style wedding (think Cinderella). Both were joyful and life-affirming. It’s wonderful how inclusive we are becoming about what constitutes a marriage in the United States. I couldn’t imagine comparing two occasions like this even five years ago.

Nick and Jacquie

Nick and Jacquie

“Marriage – gay and straight – is a gift to the world because the world needs more not less love, fidelity, commitment, devotion and sacrifice.” ~Rob and Kristen Bell, The Zimzum of Love

There was a time when same-sex marriage was not even a thought in my stratosphere. In my youth, homosexuality was kept so hush, hush I didn’t even know it existed until I was a 19-year-old art student. Getting over the shock that two members of the same sex could be lovers took a while for me. I was raised Catholic and soon learned that being gay was a sin in the eyes of the Church. Many branches of Christianity use scripture to condemn homosexuality. They strictly adhere to the Bible being God’s infallible word. When I realized the Bible accepted slavery, it left an opening for me to question the validity of words written two thousand years ago. I came to the conclusion to trust what my heart knew all along: we have a right to be who we are and to love who we love.

“Make no mistake, I am a Christian and I believe in God and I don’t believe he makes mistakes, so I believe that being gay is not a sin and in fact it’s how you’re made.” ~Kristin Chenowith

I’m a woman who was raised to believe she was flawed. Growing up, I was always larger than the other girls. My mother was disgusted with my pudginess and used it to make me feel “less than.” A body-obsessed society backed up her feelings toward me. Although soul crushing, growing up in that environment is what gave me compassion for gays. I knew homosexuality wasn’t a choice any more than my size was. It didn’t make sense that someone would choose a way of being in the world that would hold them up to ridicule. The bodies we are born into are no accident. Who we are is a gift.

“If God wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise.” ~Johann van Goethe

Today is a new day. America is evolving and opening its arms in an ever broader embrace. I see it in the weddings I attend. Betty and Chris’s love was celebrated and as special as Nick and Jacquie’s. As Hillary Rodham Clinton observed, “Gay rights are human rights.” The legalizing of same sex marriage is our reclaiming of the truths written in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Once again, we the people have spoken.

Betty and Chris

Betty and Chris

This story also appeared on MariaShriver.com — THE most inspiring place on the web.

Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved. www.sueshanahan.com

 

9 thoughts on “The Right to Love and Be Loved

  1. Hi Sue, I haven’t been online for awhile, so I just read your blog about marriages. I grew up like you, only even earlier, and most certainly never knew 2 people of the same sex could be lovers, let alone married. Thankfully, when the discussion became more open, I saw no problem with it. Like you, I believe we are born with certain genetics that make each of us the unique person God wanted us to be. When my son was about 6, several neighborhood boys would gather on our front lawn to ‘play’ football . . . only they called it ‘Smear the Queer’. The first time I heard it, I was out the door have a discussion with a group of wide-eyed 6 year olds. I told them that was NOT a word we used in our family, nor would it be tolerated on our property. I also gave them a very brief overview on why I felt that way, hoping not to step on the toes of other families beliefs! Apparently not, because they all continued to play there and I never heard them use the “Q” word again!! From then on they played FOOTBALL!! And the education goes on and will for several more generations sadly. The best we can do is keep an open dialogue going in our family and remain accepting of all people and their right to love! Thanks for writing this wonderful blog! Carol

  2. Carol, I love your input. I was a little afraid to write about this subject. It brings out many strong feelings in people. In the end I wrote about it because I have made a pact with myself to speak my truth. Your response confirms that I am not alone in my feelings- we have a right to be who we are. xo

    • Hello again Sue. I just read your comment to my post. My first thought was ‘most often when we are unsure of or afraid of a reaction is JUST the time to act on it, because it is a thought wanted to be recognized! I’m so glad you followed through. c

  3. Beautiful. I have coworkers that are lesbian, married and have 2 beautiful sons, Rich’s daughter is lesbian and has a beautiful son with her partner Joanne. My children are married and have beautiful children. Love is love and It’s all good in my book.

    Niji

  4. I like the line where you said “who we are is a gift”. With all that is going on in Indiana’s new law, it makes you wonder who are we to judge others? As it says in the book of Matthew 7:1, “do not judge or you too will be judged”.

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