In the past year since the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality, many of my gay friends have thanked me for being a straight ally. At first, I didn’t know quite how to respond.
I’d say something along the lines of: “You’re welcome, of course! You matter to me. You’re so worth it. I’m just glad I could help in some way.” Somehow, though, that answer seemed inadequate.
Or I might have followed up with: “It’s just sad that it took so long and involved so much pain to get to this point. I’m sorry for that.” Which is better, but still lacking. Something more needed to be said.
One day, it occurred to me. I needed to say more than just “you’re welcome.” I also needed to say something back to them:
First, thank you for inviting me to be your friend. Thank you for the love and encouragement you’ve given me over the years. It means far more than you know.
Thank you for showing me what it means to love someone when there’s a great cost involved. When simply holding someone’s hand in public could have enormous repercussions, and you do it anyway. Thank you for that courageous example.
Thank you for reminding me that it’s important to be myself and to celebrate who I am, even when I’m not exactly sure who I am. Especially when some others would like me to be something that I’m not.
Thank you for showing me what it means to live in a way that’s true to yourself.
Thank you for teaching me what it means to live courageously and to love courageously. And to recognize God at work in all of it.
Thank you for showing me how to keep trying, even when justice seems so absent and distant. Especially when justice is absent and distant.
Thank you for giving me an example of what it means to be graceful in the face of hatred and discrimination. I will never forget that.
Thank you for showing me what it means to respond to hatred with love, time and time again. Orlando is just the latest example.
And thank you for being a visible reminder that love wins. Always does. Sometimes, it just takes a little time.