This is Ian’s happy ending.
What began at our dining room table as a painful, but loving and careful explanation from me and my wife Tina about what was happening in our state, found its conclusion this week. It was a journey of our boy being forced to try to understand bigotry and fear at six years old. He had never really come up against homophobia before. I mourned his loss of innocence, and yet Tina and I were determined that WE would set the agenda; that WE would decide how he processed this experience; that WE could help him process it in a way that helped build empathy; and that a belief in the goodness of most people would survive.
That story wove itself through two years of his childhood. He had turned 8 when the election finally came, the amendment that had colored his experiences in his world finally coming up for a vote. Now at eight and a half, he has arrived at his happy ending.
And sure, I bet that Ian will always remember in a part of his heart that his family was attacked and demeaned. He will remember being worried that the government would force us to get divorced. He will remember the woman who harassed him as we shopped for groceries. He will remember that there were groups of people who worked in an organized way to harm instead of help. He will remember the lies. He will forever know that some religious organizations work against families, instead of supporting them — an idea he had never encountered until this experience.
BUT he will remember more that OUR religious community surrounded us with a fierce love and with support. He will remember all the orange shirts and sharing smiles with people we didn’t know because we knew we were all working toward fairness. He will remember that everyone that WE voted for that works at the capitol had our backs. He will remember the way his school was a place of love and strength and that adults and children there wanted families to be treated fairly, and celebrated victories with us. He will remember that he wrote a letter, and people read it, and that he had a voice in this and did not remain silent. He will remember waking in the middle of the night to find the amendment failed and eating ice cream at 2 a.m. to celebrate.
And he will remember Monday; when I arrived at his school, tears streaming down my face saying, “It passed!” He will remember rushing to meet up with Tina and hurrying to the capitol to hug and cry and thank people.
He will remember that the night the amendment made it to the ballot, he had a powerful interaction with Mayor RT Rybak at the capitol. Mayor Rybak got down on one knee, so he was at Ian’s level, and shook his hand. He looked Ian right in the eye and told him it was so great that he was here, because Ian would remember this night years later and think, “I remember that night and now things are better.” I sobbed as I hugged Mayor Rybak, so grateful that he said exactly what we all needed to hear.
And Ian will remember that when we arrived at the capitol on Monday, Rybak was one of the first people we encountered, and that we hugged and cried together, remembering and rejoicing that his words were true.
There was this crazy thing where grown-ups were behaving badly, but MORE of the grown-ups were doing the right thing, and he will remember that. He will remember — and already speaks about with such admiration and love — the people he met who were standing up for families: our rabbi Morris Allen, Richard Carlbom, Ann Kaner-Roth, Monica Meyer, Scott Dibble, John Marty and John Lesch. He will remember that our Mayor Coleman flew flags downtown to celebrate. He will remember what he told me the other day, “Governor Dayton not only will sign the bill. He WANTS the bill. He is PROUD of the bill.”
He will remember Monday; our family of 3 holding hands in a circle at the top of the capitol steps and saying Shehechiyanu.
He will remember Tuesday, waiting in the hot sun with a front row view, because he was determined to see with his own eyes when the governor’s pen touched the bill, seeking to purify our state of the rancor that has soiled it these two years. When the time came, I lifted him up so he could see over the press and he said, “I can see it! He is signing the bill!” I couldn’t answer for my tears.
He will remember dancing in the wind with his rainbow flag and staying out late to enjoy the downtown celebration. He will remember ending our night with the three of us dancing together as The Suburbs sang “Love Is The Law.”
Ian will remember all of it, I hope. Because this is his happy ending.
Ian’s Happy Ending
This is Ian’s happy ending.