In 2007 Naoto & I did an interview for the Chicago Tribune. The article was written to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court decision that invalidated any state laws that outlawed marriage between interracial couples. Our friend Erica worked for the Tribune and when one of the reporters mentioned that she was seeking out interracial couples, Erica gave her our number. The reporter came to our home one night and sat in our living room and asked us a bunch of questions about our marriage, how our families responded to our relationship, how others responded to our relationship and how we felt about the fact that our marriage would have been illegal forty years before. A few nights later a photographer came to our home to take pictures of us (and Presley). We also took a little walk downtown Oak Park with him so he could get outside shots. I wish I could have seen all of those pictures because we had a great time…but it is no secret that I was thrilled to see my little Presley in the paper! (Can you tell that she reeeeally didn’t want to be held?) You can read the article in full here. (Please note: we over-used the word “like” in the interview. Also, yes, that was my hair.)
To be honest, before we did the interview, Naoto and I had no idea about the Lovings or Loving v Virginia. We knew interracial marriage was not a common thing, especially between an Asian man and a white woman (from an all-white farm town nonetheless), but we lived in such a progressive community, we never gave it much thought.
Sure, there have been occasional head-turns over the years.
Sure, there have been people who’ve asked me “what” Naoto is and people who have refused to learn his name because it’s different. (“Can I just call him Bob?”)
Sure, there was that guy at Trader Joe’s who said, incredulously, “Yoooouuuu’re Naoto’s wife???”
But, for the most part, because of friends we surround ourselves with and the community we live in, we are insulated from the interracial marriage “haters”. It isn’t until things blow up like a Cheerios commercial that we realize how important Loving Day is.
For us, Loving Day is just another day for us to celebrate what we are: just a couple of people who happened to meet at the right place in the right time who happened to be from two different continents, two different races and two different nationalities. And, as we celebrate forty-six years of legal interracial marriage, it’s hard not to think about Loving Day’s relevance in today’s fight for gay marriage. In 2007, Mildred Loving issued this statement regarding Loving Day and its relationship to our modern-day fight for marriage rights:
“I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry… I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”