The Power of Being Acknowledged

Today is a remarkable day for the LBGT population in the United States. From my perspective it is a tabula rasa day, a blank slate day, a day from which we can proceed as never before.

An emotional day – for those of us who at one time or another felt “othered” or less-than or ashamed or afraid because of who we loved… Who we loved – not by choice – but by grand design.

An emotional day – one of many – as our personhood – as our right to live and love – has been debated by pundits and pastors and politicians and the public. (I ask my straight allies to imagine how it might feel to have your humanity, your basic right to be as you were born, up for opinion and debate and vote.)

An emotional day – waiting for 9 people.

9 people.

To decide on my dignity, my value, and my equality relative to other citizens in my country… In my home.

An emotional day waiting – and hoping – for 9 people to say “yes”…

To say yes to me… and to you… and to all the young gay people coming after us.

And they did.

They said yes.

Yes. We see you.

Yes. We acknowledge you.


It is a day of hope.

As a humanist, as a psychotherapist, as a person who believes in the inherent actualizing potential of every human being simply by virtue of their being born, I have seen the damage done when validation is withheld… I have seen the scars of otherness and cruelty and invisibility.

I have felt them myself.

But I have also seen a “phoenix effect” – a rebirth – a rising from the ashes – of lives considered disposable, or sick, or unlovable – when soothed with the balm of acceptance and validation.

I have witnessed the transformation that takes place, the magic alchemy that occurs, when someone is seen – and acknowledged – and welcomed – and celebrated.

I keep thinking of our gay youth – and the level of dignity available to them from this day forward. The dignity that is, and always has been, their birthright – long withheld.

The dignity in knowing that you, just you, as you are, are enough. You are embraced. You are included.

You are included – now by decree – granted by the highest legal authority in our country.

You are included – now by decree – in the tenets of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Today is a phoenix day.

It is a day of beginnings.

This is a great and just day!

We, this country, all of us, are lifted up when our citizens feel a sense of belonging – of inherent worth – of being given a place at the table.

We, this country, all of us, are transformed into our better selves when we celebrate the variety found in the human experience – when we embrace the unique gift of each life and give it room to blossom.

We are transformed into our better selves when we find in our collective “otherness” – not fear – but opportunity – and the potential for greatness.

I am.

We are.


Now. Onward.