Privilege Blog

All Kinds Of Tears, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:11am

Yesterday I cried a lot.

First, the Supreme Court of the United States of America decided that gay marriage was legal all over the country. This is an issue near and dear to my heart.

Imagine the old couples, marrying finally in their 70s. Getting to make that commitment and open statement of love before their time on earth runs out.

Imagine the three-year olds, boys who think Prince Eric is prettier than Ariel the Mermaid, girls watching Mulan over and over again because how could they not? Think how their lives might open up. Maybe some day “Come out!” means more often, “Get in the car!” Said by mothers standing at front doors, everybody late for school.

A few hours after the Supreme Court announced the decision, I watched President Obama’s eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, the pastor killed with 8 members of his bible study class in a South Carolina church. Obama finally said what I imagine he’s been thinking much of his life. We’ve talked about race enough. Time to do something.

A few hours later, and this is a let down in oratory, I watched the last episode of Season 4 of The Wire. I know. Television. But art has a legitimate role to play in political consciousness, and if it doesn’t make us cry now and again, it lies.

The Wire is a 10-year old HBO series set in Baltimore. The main characters are the police. Each season then draws in additional stories from different organizations in the city – drug dealers, dock workers, politicians, schools, the newspaper.

Season 4 is about the schools. By necessity, then, the children.

It really made me cry. How could life open up for everyone’s children? Too big a thought? How about every child in America?

The Wire tells its stories very, very slowly, and never settles for an easy denouement. No points driven home by killing someone every episode. You come to know four boys well, and you wait, for 10, 11, 12 episodes to know what happens to them.

It’s the waiting that gets you.

Imagine those lives closed off by systemic tragedy.

I realize that I’ve just finished 13 hours of 10-year old digital narrative, putting myself into a somewhat isolated emotional state. So, back to shared experience.

Yesterday the Supreme Court made life better for so many children. I know that people who hold different political and religious beliefs than I object to the ruling on many grounds. But if we rise above institutions for just for a minute, and see that a formidable barrier to self has been removed, surely that’s good? If humanity is good, aren’t our selves good?

Surely more barriers should be removed, for others?

I thank you America for opening your minds and your laws so my son can live more freely. In return, I hope to volunteer in some local schools where kids might not have a mom at the front door telling them, “Come out, we’re late. Get in the car, where are your shoes!”

Not much but the confluence of gratitude, tragedy, and art ought to rush on to some good sea.

Have a good weekend everyone. Free streaming for The Wire is available on Amazon Prime, if you haven’t seen it yet.


54 Responses

  1. Dear Lisa,

    I also reacted very emotionally to the SCOTUS decision yesterday, which only continued when I logged onto FB and saw so many in my feed with rainbow profiles, from The White House to locations and friends all over the world. When our daughter came out last year, my husband’s reaction was essentially the same line of reasoning: how can any institution or individual deny someone else the right to love the person of his or her own choosing? I didn’t realize how much tension I was holding in my heart until after the decision was released, my daughter texted me a line of icons of the rainbow flag and fireworks and I burst into tears at my desk. Tomorrow is the gay pride parade in the city and her girlfriend is driving down after work from Boston so they can both go together.

    1. Dear @Loretta, I am so happy for you, your daughter, and her girlfriend. And I had no idea how much legal marriage equality mattered, until it began to happen. How much it reached across our lifespans. Much love to you and yours.

    2. I also didn’t realize how much it mattered, until the decision came down and I felt waves of relief, joy, even anger wash over me. I can now marry my partner and have it legally binding in our state. That was not possible before the SCOTUS decision on Friday.

      For some reason I have been unable to cry about this, but I am so happy for all of us who will now have our partnerships equally recognized by the law.

      And so happy for the kids today who won’t know the difference between “gay marriage” and “straight marriage”. It will just be marriage to them <3

  2. The removal of the confederate flag + Obama’s oratory + the beautifully written SCOTUS decision made for a very emotional day here in West Hollywood too.

  3. It was a wonderful couple of days. First, the decision on Obamacare which means so much to many and then the decision about same sex marriage. And finally, the President’s powerful eulogy. I loved watching and hearing all of it. So happy for everyone. Those who disagree may step back and recognize that their lives will go on as before. Others will step forward and have a new life realized.

    1. @Susan, This is so beautiful and so intelligent. Thank you.

      “So happy for everyone. Those who disagree may step back and recognize that their lives will go on as before. Others will step forward and have a new life realized.”

    1. @kathy, You are very welcome. And thanks for reminding me that the goosebumps came in a very close second to the tears.

  4. My gay nephew, who’s been writing a Steampunk Zombie novel and thus begins every FB update with the phrase,
    B (his FB name) isn’t dead. He’s just . . .
    updated his status thusly yesterday:

    isn’t dead. He’s just happy about that Supreme Court ruling. It’s almost like the USA is a first-world country now! Good job, USA.

    And I concur. Congratulations to all of you for moving firmly towards the right goal, overcoming obstacle over obstacle, setback over setback. The Rule of Law and The Rule of Love come together in the world’s most influential democracy, and this northern neighbour wants to give you a big hug!

    (btw, I watched The Wire long enough ago, and loved it enough immediately, that I bought the DVD’s, season by season. . . and have rewatched with my husband since, and it might be time to watch it again. Fine, fine writing — have you seen Treme? some of the same team, also very good)

    1. ugh! I think my comment could easily be misread as condescending, and if I could figure out how to delete it, I would. . . . I hope you might sense that would never be my intention, and I’m delighted, with you, at this important ruling.

    2. @Frances/Materfamilias, Not at all. And I loved Treme, and didn’t know it was the same team. The Wire was so literary, it was the writers who set the framework that allowed the actors to be so natural.

    3. Relieved, then.
      Yes, it really was the writing, although, of course, there’s some strong acting as well. I loved it from the first episode, that “This is America, man! response to the gambling cheater question. . . brilliant irony!

  5. Actually the Obama speech was in South Carolina. It is devastating that the murders occurred here, encouraging that instead of riots we have responded with widespread respect and good will.

  6. I often wonder what percentage of Wire fans send their children to schools with kids similar to those on the show?

  7. Amen sister! I’m right there with you. This has been a week to rejoice. To top it off, last night Rache Maddow showed Obama’s speach without inteteruption. Bob and I sat in front of the TV, and were transfixed. And then he topped it off singing Amazing Grace? How glorious was that. Tears, smiles, and joy!It’s been a long time coming.

    1. That is such a good way to put it Lisa. His capacity for the long game. I admire him greatly.

  8. I have to admit that I was not expecting the decision on gay marriage. And I’ve been very distracted this week by a personal crisis (ironically, I finally filed for divorce). So it was a shock to hear the news, and I’m enjoying the general jubilation. And, as someone mentioned above, the multicolored stripes on FB friends’ photos.

    Some years ago, my sons and I sent roses to the courthouse in San Francisco to be given to a random same-sex couple waiting on the steps. There was a movement, organized through dailykos, I think, and an arrangement with a local florist. It was a joyful day, we loved thinking of a couple being surprised by them.

    I’m amused at the politicians pandering to the people who want to be sure they won’t be forced to bake cakes for same-sex weddings. Such a straw horse. What couple would want anyone who was offended by their relationship to provide anything for their wedding, anyway?

    I didn’t know your son was gay, Lisa. I can imagine the joy you feel about this decision. I’m so glad that this has happened so early in his life. My dear friend’s life was blown up a few years ago when her husband of 20+ years left her. It turned out that he was gay. It has taken a few years for both of them and, especially, their two teenaged children to recover even partially from the devastation of having their perfect family torn apart. A very difficult life for the husband, and lots of collateral damage to his family.

    I didn’t see your post as condescending, Frances, even when I read it a second time after your apology!

    1. @Marie, I hope this passage through divorce goes as smoothly as it can, and that you have a wonderful life on the other side. My thoughts are with you.

      Your friend and her husband and his family were some of the casualties of all the hiding. I’m sorry, I can only imagine what that was like for all of them. I do hope that they can keep on recovering.

  9. Thank you for this beautiful post, and I am happy for you and your son. Well, geesch, I am happy for everyone. But what I was intending to say is that you very eloquently tied up a lot of threads that have been running through my head this past week in a very gracious way.

    And I love the way you tied it all into The Wire. Good stories do that, don’t they, give us a vehicle for opening our hearts and minds and tying things together in new ways.

    Have a glorious weekend.

  10. I cried when I read the last paragraphs of Justice Kennedy’s opinion, and my kids aren’t even gay. But I have had some much-loved students over the years who will now have the recognition they deserve and I am so happy for them! Way to go, Supreme Court!!!

  11. Love the post. Love the connection to The Wire. All inspires me to share a powerful new book with you all by Robert Putnam, America’s Kids.

    1. @Stephanie, I looked up the book, and it looks great. The title is actually, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  12. Lovely post Lisa. The decision was very big news up here in Canada! I haven’t yet heard President Obama’s eulogy so I’ll go find it now, thanks Lisa. XO

  13. You were one of the many people I thought of upon hearing this happy, happy news. Rainbow is the new black, and it’s truly beautiful.

  14. Thank you, America, for finally recognizing what Canadians have known for some years. The rights that I enjoy as a heterosexual female also belong to my brothers and sisters. The end.

  15. I cried along with you, both on that day and again in reading this. Happy, then sad, tears. But suddenly I had to skip the rest of the post! Because, coincidentally, my husband and I are binge-watching The Wire right now (season 4, episode 10 tonight), and I was afraid to read on. I thought DH and I were *the* last people on planet Earth to see The Wire.

  16. Now I want to watch “The Wire.” Lisa, you said this all so beautifully…and your readers! What a lovely, intelligent and compassionate bunch.

    I am proud that SCOTUS did the right thing. So proud of our President, and moved to tears by his rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

    1. I highly recommend “The Wire.” And the readers are so excellent, I’m happy to have you here.

  17. I know it is a week later, but the weddings still bring me to tears. The first in line up in Dallas were George Harris (82) and Jack Evans (85) who’ve been together for 54 years. They asked if they got a senior discount on the license! Watching or reading about their ceremony is a cure when things get you down for sure. Fireworks this weekend will feel like a continuation of the celebration.

    1. Senior discount. Gotta love it. And I’ll keep this in mind for the fireworks. Thanks!

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