It is 2035, in the middle of a hazy summer. Raging struggles have been won and the world has been turned right-side up again. Sexual diversity, along with all the other wonderful human ways of being, has been embraced.
I am old, and my skin is cross-hatched with wrinkles – one for each book (bits of soul) read, loved one, placard waved, and the big old banner left behind on a wet Venezuelan road. It’s okay to be old now. The dictated hierarchy of social superiority has gone, and no age, gender, skin color, or relationship type is better than any other. There are no sexual norms. Relationship numbers, duration, exclusive or not, genders of those involved, the frequency of sex – no one cares now. Instead, society is focused on expressive, respectful relationships with good communication and sexual health.
I’m sitting in Hyde Park, on the concrete fence of that central fountain where in 2002 the high school students climbed the statues and declared in wet hair that war was unacceptable. Now, I watch as people wait for friends, flicking their fingers in the fountain water then looking eagerly at their watches. Pride has replaced fear. You can see it in their eyes and postures. There is freedom to relax and breathe and people are who they are, and love how they want. Love in all its forms is celebrated rather than put in chains and restricted. There is a threesome holding hands to my left, and to my right a male-female couple, and heading this way down the path, all sorts of individuals – a bald woman with a skateboard, a man in a long pink skirt, a person without gender blowing bubbles, a couple making up a poem as they talk. One could watch people all day. Some of them celebrate unions, some make commitments, some decide not to, some spend nights together, others spend years, and now they do that without being attacked, ashamed, discriminated against, pressured, locked up, or killed.
The old, strict, unwritten Normal Laws are gone, and assumptions went with them. That male-female couple may be straight, or may not be, I don’t know. People don’t assume that a person with a certain haircut or clothing color is gay, and they no longer ask little boys, thinking it is cute and funny, if they have a girlfriend yet. When people talk about who they are now, what they prefer, and their relationships, they don’t have to pause awkwardly or clear their throat or tell itchy lies because they don’t conform to the Normal Laws.
Ah, one of that threesome is deaf, and her partners seem to be learning sign language. Love is understood as caring for each other now, rather than a social obligation. People are informed, open, and curious, rather than bigoted, prejudiced and negative. That new overall environment means there are less psychological problems.
Quick evening thunder and a soothing barrage of rain falls on us all. People keep talking, some laugh. The person with the bubbles blows harder, as though that will make the bubbles stronger against the piercing raindrops. The world is more joyful now, and people are beautiful rather than damaged, dignified rather than embarrassed. The threesome are arguing passionately and it makes me want to write in big letters on the fountain fence, “creativity has been freed.” Because with the freedom to be, people are painting, singing, writing and debating more, even when it rains like this. The stories and poems are more hopeful. Movies and songs, with the old boring formulas of hero-man and prize-girlfriend and the one acceptable version of how to live life long gone, are more interesting and surprising.
The bubble-blower joins the couple making up a poem. Gives them a gift of some extra interesting words. The stormy summer sky may be dark now, but we can all feel that a great weight, a great opaque gray cloud of discrimination is gone. Or as one dear poet, Roque Dalton wrote, it is like the world has swallowed a warm aspirin the size of a sun. The pain is over.