by Annabeth RoeschleyOn the morning of Wednesday june 26,2013 I stood down at the Supreme Court of the United States, listening to the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC gathering to raise voice in song. It was their first performance following the Supreme Court’s decision to declare (parts of) DOMA unconstitutional. It was jubilant. It was a chorus of all stripes, full of pride; relief, albeit weathered, in their eyes, bodies, song.
After an emotive rendition of “Let them Hear You,” the chorus closed with the Star Spangled Banner. I consider myself a fairly unpatriotic person, so I found myself surprisingly moved upon hearing our National Anthem; their recital gave me chills. On that day, hearing that familiar text sung for its first time post-DOMA, that anthem resounded anew. “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave…”
I biked back on that steamy June morning, pondering bravery. The bravery of plaintiffs who fight the United States for their equal rights. The bravery of those still fighting for their right to vote in this democracy. The bravery of Pink Mennos. The bravery of survivors who leave abusive partners. The bravery of nonviolence. The bravery of those who transcend borderlines, the bravery to go days without water or rest to immigrate. The bravery it takes when you’re seven, and kids tease you because you’re a boy who prefers to dance.
The bravery we maintain simply to be ourselves. In this day and age, it shouldn’t require courage, but it does.
I have deep qualms about the institution of marriage. I have qualms about nationalism at the expense of other nations. I have qualms about the Supreme Court. But this week I am reminded, that on this long arc towards justice, we get nowhere without courage. The practice of courage, the bidding of bravery, is, in itself, an act of resistance! For what else so succinctly exposes the myth of our systems of power?
Land of the free and home of the brave, I believe we have a long way to go until we are (all) free.
But we, most certainly, are brave.
Thanks for this, Anna. Your words resonate with me and touch me.