It was a slow Friday morning at the front desk of the museum I work at. With a lack of visitors to welcome, I alternated entertaining myself with reading, texting friends, playing Solitaire, and browsing the news.
And that’s when I saw it. The 5-4 Supreme Court decision recognizing marriage equality across the nation. I was flooded with unexpected emotion—and taken aback by an unfamiliar sense of American pride. Could it really be true? As a gay person, was I no longer a second-class citizen?
After work, I did what any impulsive 20-something year old living in New York City would do—walked straight to St. Mark’s Place to get an equality symbol inked on the back of my neck. Good lesbian, bad Jew—I know, I know. But I’ve been inked before, and I stand by self-expression and celebration through body art. And on this particular day, with this incredibly close yet favorable ruling, marriage equality was certainly something worth celebrating.
I was raised by secular Jewish parents who left the anti-semitic former Soviet Union, which today, as the Russian Federation, continues to discriminate against minorities, still including Jews, but now especially queer-identified people. Extreme violence toward queer people in Russia seems to be the cultural norm. I’ve never visited where my parents grew up, and can’t say I’m in the works of planning a trip—at least in the near future, because of the realities of Putin’s Russia.