I can’t stop crying today. I didn’t expect it. But, last night, watching Obama cry – or more accurately, shed tears – talking about the death of his grandmother unleashed a torrent of bawling. Then watching the Obama family cast their votes in Chicago this morning, I choked up again.
I know I’m naturally sentimental but it still confused me. I don’t understand where this wellspring of emotion came from. I think it may be the realization - after 8 years of feeling that the majority of people in this country are mean-spirited evangelicals who believe in punishment rather than helping one another - that hope is worth holding onto, that the world isn’t such a cruel and heartless place, that people do care about each other and that our country does have the ability to be a transcendent beacon of possibility for a better world.
Maybe it is also the realization that the long, tortured journey that I started in the 1980s to live the life I wanted and to be accepted by society is coming to an end. An end that I hadn’t thought possible except for a brief period in 1992 when Clinton was elected – and before it was eviscerated by the reaction to his attempt to eliminate anti-gay discrimination in the military.
I know I’m setting myself up for the same disappointment I had 3 months into the Clinton presidency but this time it seems more real and sincere. No matter what happens next, the fact that the majority of America can vote for someone as human, sensitive, smart and liberal as Obama gives me hope and makes me reevaluate my cynical view of the world. I feel the desire to contribute again. I have hope that my efforts can create change. It may take 40 years and a lot of pain in between, but change can happen. It wasn't linear, its not perfect, but the dreams I had of who I wanted to be and what I wanted society to be have come pretty damn close to reality.
Hope is worth holding onto.