America: Land of the Free and Home of the Gays
By Henry Amador
My husband and I recently celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. Our son and I share a birthday around the same date as well, so my family likes to plan a fun and special getaway to commemorate it all.
This year we decided to visit our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.
It seemed fitting, based on the fact that our marriage is now, finally, legally recognized in our home state of North Carolina and also because of the enormous strides that marriage equality has been making in recent days.
I grew up Catholic in a very traditional Spanish family. I always found comfort in the grandeur of the Church, with all its tradition, pomp, and history. But eventually I drifted away from it, and instead found peace in my own, personal idea of faith and spirituality. And although I’m as patriotic as the next guy, my relationship with my country –much like my love-hate relationship with the Church because of its views on homosexuality– has similarly suffered.
But at this point in my life going to Washington felt completely right. As a 51-year old gay man heading into D.C. for the first time, I had the same feeling once experienced walking into St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City in Rome: a feeling of coming home, of reaching my Mecca (Mekkah) after a lifelong and somewhat difficult pilgrimage.
I was in Washington D.C. with my husband and our beautiful son and I felt, probably for the first time, that full equality for my family and me was very clearly on the horizon.
To add to the excitement, we were invited to try the new YEZZ stroller by the European company Quinny. The timing could not have been better. This neat lightweight (12lbs) stroller made exploring our Capital all the more amazing.
And explore we did!
We visited many (MANY) of the Smithsonian Museums.
We had lunch at the Department of Agriculture’s food court. (It’s awesome.)
We visited the White House, where my son got a huge laugh after he finished posing for photos and boldly proclaimed, “Okay, I’m ready to go inside and see Obama now.”
We took walks by the Potomac in Georgetown and shopped at some really amazing stores. (I should have bought that hat.)
And the YEZZ went everywhere we did, but without the usual stroller hassle. It just became part of our family. We and our YEZZ moved breezily in and out of subways, crammed ourselves cozily into local restaurants, and partook in all things Washingtonian. The YEZZ not only folds up in a blink, but also stands up by itself when closed. And our boy loved pushing his “buggy”, which, thanks to its maneuverability, allowed him (and us) to keep an adventurous pace.
For me the most amazing moment of our trip was walking up to the Lincoln Memorial. This was my St. Peter’s, “coming home” moment.
I stood at the exact spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke those famous words of inspiration and struggle.
I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Man, what those words do to me, those poignant and powerful words spoken to a people yearning for justice in 1963, the year of my birth.
For me, those words are as relevant today in 2014 as they were 51 years ago.
I stood there and thought about my immigrant grandparents who came to this country like so many, on a boat, dreaming of a better life for themselves, their children, their grandchildren (me) and their great-grandchildren (my son). They could never have imagined the beauty and the significance of the moment I was experiencing with my family. I thought about my own struggles and those of so many of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters still trying to slice out their piece of the American pie.
What a homecoming, indeed: to stand there, hand-in-hand with my husband and our son, looking out onto the Mall, realizing that we were not merely visiting history, we were making it as well.