2016 was a tumultuous year. It brought us a divisive election, an unthinkable massacre in a Florida nightclub, an absurd bathroom bill in the state of North Carolina, an unfilled seat on the US Supreme Court, and much more. There are hundreds of pieces of legislation in states all across America, whose sole purpose is to limit LGBT equality: LGBT parents, spouses, families, employees, youth... people.
It's true: we're feeling unsettled. Baffled. Angry.
Yet it's important to remember that, as all years do, 2016 also brought us amazing gifts: The opportunity to see a woman (one who believes openly in LGBT equality) have a real chance at the White House... the opportunity to hear our attorney general stand before us time and again with inspirational words of support for the LGBT minority... growing visibility for the trans- community in our nation... the naming of Stonewall Inn, by President Obama, as the first national monument honoring LGBT history... the reality that speaker after speaker at the RNC attempted to mouth the words "LGBT" to begin showing that they, too, are beginning to frame an understanding of inclusion.
And it's also important to remember that the extreme divisiveness we witnessed this year inherently brings its own gifts, as long as we are willing to muscle through the effort of searching for them. Clamoring to point out the differences between people is a sure way to also point out the similarities. And those similarities can mark paths in the road ahead, toward a stronger and more inclusive sense of equality for everyone.
2017 will undoubtedly present rigorous challenges of its own. Perhaps it will be our job to see through those challenges for the clarity and opportunities they'll bring to light. Let's look for those, let's quest for them, let's explore them. And with that clearer vision, claim what it is we want for our future.
-Marianne Puechl, co-founder & author / RainbowWeddingNetwork.com