I’m standing in the self-checkout line at the grocery store. In front of me is a woman about my age. She has two teenagers with her. I’d say they were 16 or 17. Both are guys. They are holding hands. It’s not an obvious display of affection.
There’s a woman behind me. She’s about my age, as well. She’s grumbling under her breath. “Disgusting,” I hear her say. “Sickening.”
The line moves at a snail’s pace as we wait for scanners to open. Finally, the woman behind me has had enough. She marches up to the mother in front of me. “Is that your son?” she demands.
Before the mother can say anything, the other woman launches into a tirade. “You should be ashamed of yourself,” she shouts. “I shouldn’t have to be forced to stand here and see this disgusting display. Why didn’t you make your perverted son and his boyfriend stay in the car out in the parking lot!”
She turns back to the rest of the line. “Doesn’t this make you sick?” No one says anything.
And then I say something.
I raise my left hand and wiggle the wedding ring on my finger. “I am married – to another man. We’ve been together for over three decades. In case you haven’t heard, it’s legal. I’ve waited most of my life to see two men holding hands as they patiently wait in line at the grocery store.”
I put down my basket and take a few steps to stand between the two young men and the mother. “What sickens me is your behavior,” I say to the woman. “You are rude. You are small-minded. You are a bigot. THAT is inappropriate behavior for a grocery store.”
I give the mother a reassuring smile and point to the two the two young men. Then I stare into the eyes of the other woman. “This is our future,” I tell her. “You cannot stop it. If you don’t like it, you’d better stop the bus and get off now.”
Several customers have finished paying, and their scanner stations open up. The mother and two young men walk to one. I walk to another and begin my checkout. The indignant woman is nowhere to be seen when I look up.
I walk to my truck with the bag of groceries feeling anything but a sense of accomplishment. I give a nervous backward glance at the parking lot. Am I being followed? Is someone taking note of my vehicle? The silence of those in the checkout line hardly meant they disagreed with the bigoted woman.
What I said to her plays in my mind as I drive home. The future I supported all my life can indeed be stopped. We stand at a crossroad. The progress and acceptance of generations is being dismantled by a disinfranchised minority. They are empowered by an opportunist who cares nothing about them. The agenda is clear. Isolation. Persecution. Swift punishment for resistance.
Beware of what you think your silence buys you. Someone’s already tried to manufacture this version of the future before. History shows us it offers no protection.