There are some moments you can feel history in the air. It’s something you can nearly touch; it’s something so present, it cannot be ignored. That was Chicago’s 2014 Pride Parade.
For the first time ever, legally married same-sex couples joined the parade. Consider the importance of that for a second. Fifty years from now, there will be children surprised that there was ever a time that a woman couldn’t marry another woman, or a man marry another man. And here we stood, in Chicago, culture shifting as we watched.
There was a car with the couple issued the first same-sex marriage license in Illinois, and as they passed, I thought about how, should their marriage survive (and let’s hope that it does), half a lifetime from now, those two young men will have more gray in their hair. Perhaps their children will join them. And year, after year, they will always be the first same-sex couple issued a license in the state. Some day they might even seem a relic from a distant past, but today they were shiny, triumphant.
More newlyweds came by, some in veils, others in just t-shirts, waving from floats and cars, pointing at their gleaming rings.
And then, my favorite moment of all. Two men stood in a little platform on a float, four pillars around them attached above. They both wore suits. A man stood in front of them, and through the roar of the crowd, we could hear his words, hear the words of the grooms. They were getting married, right there, right then, in the middle of Chicago’s Pride Parade. The officiant pronounced them husband and husband, and they shared a sweet kiss to thunderous yells and a shower of bubbles.
Their float was sponsored by Sears. The list of politicians in the parade seemed endless. ABC7 Chicago had a float, as did NBC 5 and WGN. There were representatives from the Bulls and the Cubs, from streams of religious institutions, businesses and schools.
Acceptance is mainstream. Acceptance is the norm. And isn’t that glorious for us as a species?
Rail on all you like, those among you who feel you should dictate to others the value of their love. The correctness of their love. It won’t matter. The shift has happened, the chasm split open, and over time, it will only get wider as we get further away from what was before.
You can still feel it here, in the first. The past is close enough to reach from here, you don’t even have to stretch your arm. But as the statutes against same-sex marriage fall, one after another after another, and as the years go on, it will get more distant. Fuzzier. And there will come a time when, like anti-miscegenation laws, kids will wonder at how they ever existed.
We lived the turning point. How amazing is that.