Tuesday, March 26, 2013

love equality

As you've no doubt heard, the supreme court today begins to take up to issues of same-sex marriage equality. It is going to hear testimonies about California's Prop 8 (is it legal to have gay marriage in California?) and DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, (Is it unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right of marriage equality?)   I need to weigh in on this, because I am at least, not straight, and I know how hard it can be if you're mentally ill to make relationships, especially if you're looking for a same-sex relationship.

I grew up assuming I was straight. I never really gave it any thought. But when I was 18 I fell for a woman and realized my attraction to women was there, too. For a long time I thought I was bisexual, for a time I thought I was a lesbian, now, I don't know anymore because I'm just in a healing phase, but it's fair to say that I'm "queer" for sure. I know that if some day I fall in love with a woman and want to get married, I'd like to have that right. I think the constitution gives me that right and it's part of human equality.

I know that I didn't choose this; it's biological. Yes, I was born this way. Just as I was born with mental illnesses that didn't manifest until I was in my teens and later. I can tell you that it's hard enough when you're paranoid about social interaction just to get through the day, but finding a partner when you're queer and mentally ill is especially challenging. Now, you've got two stigmas to deal with internally and externally. I noticed that at the center where I go for treatment they have gay support groups. I never joined one, because I haven't felt like meeting anyone, but it made me realize that I wasn't alone and that the need for such groups existed.

I think sometimes that there's actually more compassion in the United States for mental illness than for loving someone of the same sex, which is sad. I'm out to my family and friends, but I felt that I needed to be honest here, too, especially today. I write as someone who knows that if you are mentally ill and / or a recovering addict finding a supportive partner is just not easy. Add queer to that and it can be really lonely. I mean, for many of us who don't identify strictly as gay or lesbian or who have had both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, confusion can reign. It's hard enough making bonds without having to worry about what kind of path you can potentially take in society with a loved one. My greatest fear is that a same-sex partner would become my next-of-kin and not be able to help me in all ways if I were hospitalized. This is something many have experienced.

If you're reading this and you are mentally ill and queer, know that one more person is here with the same dilemma. And if you don't have these challenges, please listen to the debate with an open heart and realize the healing impact that love has on everyone. To be mentally-ill and denied the right to marry based on sexual orientation is cruel, in my opinion, and now is the time for change.

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