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When Tracy Chapman sings that talkin’ about a revolution sounds “like a whisper,” it seems a safe bet that LGBT folks have a particularly keen understanding of where she’s coming from.
While many of the landmarks in the fight for LGBT equality have been anything but a whisper – Stonewall, marches on Washington, Lawrence v Texas, the right to marry in Massachusetts – these larger victories and demonstrations were all borne of a desire for something that is actually very quiet: the right to love and live with dignity and equality.
While the thought of two men or two women getting married seems radical and even outrageous to some, same-sex couples have a long history of making commitments to each other – of forming families even while the laws of this society fail them, punish them or, at best, ignore them. And, despite naysayers claiming that gay and lesbian relationships can’t and don’t last, there are countless examples of happy, long-term couples to prove them wrong.
In this week’s issue celebrating marriage and commitment, we bring you a story about Frank Martin and Al Vezza, two men who have been together for 50 years. They met in 1956, hardly an era of gay liberation. Nobody argued over, much less thought about, “gay marriage.” There were no rules, no examples of long-term couples to emulate. Young gays and lesbians were on their own, often literally.
And yet Vezza and Martin met, fell in love and are still together 50 years later. “It just developed day by day and then before we turned around, it was 20 years together and then 30 years,” said Vezza. Theirs is a remarkable, sweet and inspiring story. It is also an example of that “whisper” of revolution.
Love is a private thing. Each individual’s experience with love is intensely personal and unique. It is the quiet storm that ultimately inspires folks to protest, to raise their voices, to demand change. And though many “rise up,” as Tracy Chapman sings, many others do not – at least, not out loud.
It can be a terribly exhausting thing to defend your right to love the person you want and to have that relationship recognized. Also, not everyone is political. However, even today, the very nature of love between two people of the same sex is a political act. By loving and committing and lasting, same-sex couples make a more powerful social statement than any number of marchers with signs and slogans. Because ultimately that’s what we’re fighting for, that’s what this is all about.
Of course, couples need to come out and be out about their relationships. But, the tide is starting to turn. More and more gay and lesbian couples are coming out and saying, “We exist and we love.” And the whisper grows ever louder.