I was boarding a plane today when I saw a status update from an acquaintance say something about how she doesn't understand how an avatar about gay marriage means anything. She said of course she supported gay marriage, but said something along the lines of "How are you affecting change by posting an avatar?"
I get that, really, I do. The thought crossed my mind last night when I saw the red square with the bars and wondered, "Is there really any point in changing my avatar?" Maybe there's not. Or maybe there is.
The thing is: changing an avatar is extremely personal for me. It means that I support that my brother, and his partner (pictured above at dinner tonight) can get married if they want to. Or not. The fact is, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments that will lead to decisions that will affect my family.
So yes, it's personal. But even if it was not, I would still change that avatar on my profile photo.
Yeah, I get it: changing an avatar isn't exactly an act of political uprising. Point taken.
The back story: my brother has pretty much always been out. Heck, my parents accepted all of us from the moment we were born. We were very lucky. Not everyone is as fortunate.
My family has also been the family that's taken in gay teens and adults when they were rejected by their own, and by the people who were supposed to care. My parents set that example.
So please excuse me while I indulge in a red avatar with an equality sign.
Maybe it's pithy to you.
But honestly, that's your problem.
Tonight at dinner, enjoying dumplings and noodles, my brother and partner and I talked about how fantastic it was to see our social networks light up with red. We're at a monumental time of change. Is it a huge political act to change an avatar? For most of us, not really. It's a click. But you know what? In this sea of red, change is happening. Sorry if it's beneath you.
It's fair to question what those of us with these avatars have done in the non-social media realm. For me, it started when, 20 years ago a scared friend asked me to go to Denny's, where he shared for the first time, that he was gay. I reached across the table and said, "OK. I still love you." It wasn't a brave thing for me, it was a brave thing for him. Facebook had not been invented. There was just Denny's coffee and fries.
But, it's those conversations I hold dear my heart when I change my profile avatar to red. I changed it for one of my best friends, whose partner is in Spain, waiting for these laws to change. It's for my college professor, whose wedding I attended a decade ago but whose marriage is not recognized in South Carolina. It's for my mom and dad, who have proudly raised a gay son. Why can't he have the same rights as me and my spouse?
It's for my son. It's for sons and daughters whose names I don't know.
It's for all of us.
Yes, clicks are easy, action is much more difficult.
But today, my avatar has changed. And it's no small thing.