The tears kept coming on Friday, June 26th. (My staff can attest, there was dancing too.) Joyful tears at the knowledge that the freedom to marry—the ability to legally commit to care for and love someone for a lifetime—was now accessible to every American, no matter where they live or who they love. Sorrowful tears for all those who came before us and fought this fight never to see its victory. And then there were the “I just can’t believe we freaking did this” tears.
It was a day that forever changed the course of our nation’s history. It was a day I will never forget.
Minneapolis was electric, charged with people’s energy. The exaltation, relief, and optimism for the future hung in the air like the humidity that descended on our city. Nowhere was that energy more palpable than at the Pride Festival in Loring Park.
And with this energy Minneapolis created something beautiful.
A poem arrived in my inbox a few weeks after the last of the rainbow streamers had been swept away, and I want to share it all with you.
John Medeiros, a writer and immigration lawyer in the Twin Cities, has been co-curating Queer Voices, a reading series featuring LGBT writers, for the last decade. (It’s the longest running series of its kind in the country; how Minneapolis is that.) John and his co-curator Andrea Jenkins wanted to do something memorable and artistic, of course, to honor the series’ 10th anniversary. Poems! That was their first idea. And they did just that, handing out close to 2,500 during the festivities. But they wanted more. Something memorable. Something creative.
John and Andrea wanted to capture the community’s artistic response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that marriage is a fundamental right for all Americans. “we” is a poem that does just that.
People contributed in a manner of ways, some adding full lines, others a word or image. After the festival John edited (minimally) the poem for flow. Some lines are a culmination of multiple people’s additions to the poem.
To every passerby who stopped at the Intermedia Arts tent, I thank you. I thank you for your verses, your standalone words, your images. I thank you, John for pulling it altogether and yet leaving it virtually untouched.
The people of Minneapolis created something awesome—in the truest sense of the word.
Without further ado, here is “we”, curated by John Medeiros, written by the people of Minneapolis.
(a community art project sponsored by IntermediaArts and written by the community during the Twin Cities Pride Festival, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the recognition of same-sex marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution)
like the night
stars dancing in a crazy wind
we shine at the beach
and sing in one voice, ticking like a joyous metronome
like a thousand divas
moving forward in vociferous vibration.
to turn back time and do it all again.
we sing like Miriam at the Red Sea
celebrating our international friendships
hanging out and sharing hugs
družim in delitev objemov.
we sing for our children and their friends
for David (lost and sadly missed)
for sunny days and summer skies
for a nation as it celebrates love.
we sing so we have music to dance to.
and faces surround us –
faces of joy and inclusion
beaming like little lights of the world
as fear and hatred dim and flicker and fade
we are one
a myriad of volatile voices
speaking in harmony
sprouting like young green leaves
all around us.
there is thrill in completion
in having come this far after walking for so long
our steps, heavy and weary.
but here we are
a community glowing, surrounded by affection,
strong and beautiful and authentic
in our gender
and in our love.
there are flags and kites and feathers
of future generations
majestic in their colors
majestic in their flight
floating in unison
as minds and hearts open
and love (equally)
our brothers and sisters
in this, our Garden of Eden.
we say yes to love,
yes to always
yes to unity and acceptance
and, after long last,
to loving openly.
we say no
to shame we don’t deserve.
like Vonnegut we hate this war
– this fight against oppressive swords.
yes, the battle was necessary
to honor those who came before
and those who have yet to come.
our guide is this brilliant sun
a sun of intuition
reflecting blues and greens pride of years long past,
reflecting back to the grass where love first started,
where love took root and grew as roots so often do.
our guides are those heroes who taught us
to love who we are
to fight with the strength of a diseased tree
to stand against hatred and injustice
and to remember where we came from.
love is always the answer, says the Court
let her in. let her in now.
love is the answer. the answer is love.
and now we can find comfort in our own skin
and not hide our love within
and like roses we grow
graceful despite our thorns.
in the end we are a proud
rainbow of traditions and colors –
a community that has learned to love
in the midst of hate.
faith is our pride.
we have learned to love a queer love
an awesome, beautiful, powerful, political,
strong, unique, colorful, big, bold, queer love
that, when tossed away by others,
like a boomerang always manages to come back.
and who expected this sun to shine?
who expected love to flow,
hugs to abound
and kisses to flow without fear?
who expected us to be here
brilliant as the first sun just after the first rain?
who knew we would win 5 to 4?
who knew ours would be a rapid flight,
that feathery clouds would take wing,
that the Court would spawn such inspiration and passion and love?
who knew freedom would taste like this?
that our bellies would expand so with such joy?
that fifty states would now be mandated
to recognize love equally.
we shine despite the darkness
we sing despite the silence
we love despite the hatred
because love wins.
it is so ordered.
thus sayeth the Court.