Today the United States Supreme Court handed down a ruling that stated that marriage is no longer permitted to be solely between one man and one woman in this country. When the news hit the wires, I was in that rare moment between clients when I get to see what is actually happening in the outside world beyond the safe confines of my room. My browser exploded with messages from friends, family and colleagues about their reactions to this moment.
For a brief moment I was overjoyed and celebratory at all the opportunity that so many would be able to avail themselves of. I thought of all the work and diligence that so many committed themselves to in the journey to equality. And then, reality set in. In my waiting room, was my next appointment.
My next appointment was a 52 year old man that I have seen for more than two years. When he first came to me, he had suicidal ideation, addiction and no desire to continue living. We have made amazing advancements in his care and wellbeing. The root of his psychiatric challenge has formed in his absolute shame and guilt for identifying as a gay man. When he entered my office this afternoon, I asked him if he had seen the news. He hadn’t. I was excited to tell him that being gay and in a loving relationship was being recognized across this nation. His reaction was grounding.
He looked at me and asked what any of that had to do with him. He still couldn’t understand why he was gay and how anyone could ever love him. It was a sobering moment. Our work as practitioners allows us to experience the amazing moments in our clients’ lives. We see growth, understanding and acceptance. And, in moments like this, they teach us.
While I will continue to celebrate this landmark decision and be ever grateful for the shoulders of others that families like mine get to stand on, I will not forget the rest of the work that is still to be done. Just because people can legally marry, does not prepare people for the complex journey they can now take. Our work will continue to focus on helping others learn to love themselves, be able to love others and accept love – this is the continuing work in mind, head, body and spirit.
If you are struggling with your sexual identity or what marriage means in your life, contact Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org.