Sometimes, while out with my family in a well-populated public place, I do a sort of mental exercise with myself. In this exercise, I imagine I want to reach for my husband’s hand—something that, in reality, I do instinctively and often. But in this exercise, I imagine that before I can grab my husband’s hand, I have to look around. I need to assess the other people in the vicinity. I have to size them up and try to predict what their reaction would be if I dare take my husband’s hand out in public like this, where anyone could see.

Will we earn smiles in support of our love? Or lips curled in revulsion? UNNATURAL, they might think.

Will they shout ugly slurs at us? Our children are with us—is holding my husband’s hand worth risking exposing our children to uninhibited hate?

In this imagined scenario, I pretend there was a time when I would have grabbed my husband’s hand anyway, out of defiance. I’d see someone with the look of a bigot (in my imagined-memory I have catalogued for years the various manifestations of a bigot though this is probably one of the more difficult profiles for which to compile traits. It’s hard to tell sometimes) but I’d grab my husband’s hand anyway.

FUCK YOU, our hands would say. LOVE IS LOVE. GO AHEAD AND HATE US. YOU ARE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THIS. In my imagined-memory of our pre-children early years, such a risk would have been worth it. But now, since our children are with us, I must temper my defiance. Our children will learn soon enough. They are already learning. We will go out to dinner later. We already know which restaurants are safest and most comfortable for and accepting of our kind of people. You learn to keep track of these things until it becomes reflex.

In this imagined life, my husband and I don’t match what we see around us. We are a small minority. We stick out. We are obvious. In the distance, a pair of men comfortably and unthinkingly together because their union is the accepted norm, stare at us. I can’t tell what they’re thinking. I don’t want to care, but I do. Not about their feelings in particular, but just in general. I care.

Because I want to know why my love is wrong. Tell me. Why is my love wrong? Why does the world keep breaking my heart this way? Please just let me love this man. Please just let me love him, please let it be okay and good for me to love him. Please stop making me feel abnormal. I’m just like you. My husband and I love and argue and grocery shop and clean toilets and hang family pictures and change our kids’ diapers and buy insurance policies and binge-watch Netflix just like you. Just like you, just like you, just like you.

Recently, a friend’s Facebook post said something to the effect of, “All sins are equal in the eyes of Jesus.” The post encouraged us to love our LGBTQ friends despite their sin, because, after all, we all sin.

Tears are pooling in my eyes. Tears of rage. My heart is on fire with rage. My joints ache with rage. I can feel the rage IN MY HAIR.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

God, my heart.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

Please, please, please do not use this “all sins are equal” logic to attempt to demonstrate your acceptance of queer folks.

Please don’t do that. It hurts. Please. Please don’t do it.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

I have dear friends in the LGBTQ community who have given me the gift of sharing some of their most personal fears, some of their most terrifying moments. I love these friends. I love them in spite of… nothing. I simply love them. There is no reason not to love them. None at all. There is nothing I must “accept” about them. Nothing at all. I love them.

I HATE that they have to fight for what I take for granted, things straight people hardly even think about, things like joint property ownership and assumed parental rights and the right to make healthcare decisions for one another in the event a partner is unable to do so for themselves.

I want to help my friends. I want to change minds. I want to change the world for them. I don’t simply want to preach to a choir who will nod their heads in agreement and give me a high five.

I WANT TO CHANGE MINDS.

For those who profess to love the LGBTQ community despite their “sins,” I urge you to challenge your reality the same way I do. Go out with the ones you cherish, with your family, and imagine that the mere act of holding hands is an act of defiance or even an incitement to violence. Imagine having to look around and assess your environment before engaging in so simple an act. Feel it. Feel the sting of someone telling you your love is wrong, unacceptable, unlawful, sinful. Feel the sting of someone looking at you and wondering “what” you are. Feel the sting of not making sense to someone. Feel the sting of having to adopt the children your wife bore to you after you stood by her side for nine months, coached her through labor, pulled all-nighters with her and your babies. Feel the sting of having to prove you are not a deviant. Feel the sting of a government, of an entire society, telling you that the life you live with your family is invalid. Feel the sting of knowing that there are some countries you just can’t fucking travel to because it would be far too dangerous.

Don’t just think about it. FEEL it. FEEL the sting of being told that the purest love you’ve ever known is a sin.

FEEL the sting of laws confirming this sentiment.

I want to change minds. If just a few people reading this can feel a shift in their heart from mere tolerance (Love the sinner, hate the sin!) to acceptance and love (LOVE IS NOT A SIN), I will be happy.

But I won’t be truly satisfied until my LGBTQ friends are fully accepted and loved and have all the same rights and freedoms as their straight counterparts.

More than anything, I want as many people as possible to take the following message to heart, and spread it like wildfire: Accepting and advocating for the LGBTQ community must not be done from behind self-righteous proclamations of loving our fellow humans despite their sins. Not if the sin you’re talking about is love.

Because love is not a sin.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

LOVE IS NOT A SIN.

***

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