It is easy to look at the Rick Santorums of the world and think of how far we have to go. Marriage equality is not realized in most states. DOMA keeps those legally married in the US from fully enjoying the rights of married couples. Politicians even try to introduce legislation making it illegal to even mention us in school. Finally, and perhaps worst of all, even our cis and hetero allies have a hard time acknowledging their own privilege, unwittingly continuing the narrative of us being “other” and them being “normal,” even though it is in the context of “tolerance”, and scarring so many of us when we are so young and our sense of self is still being formed. Even with our recent gains, it is easy to lose hope.
But we have made gains. We have made gigantic leaps across chasms of ignorance, fear and hatred. More states are accepting marriage equality. More states are introducing legislation to protect us from discrimination. More leaders are embracing us as part of the American experience. More of our allies, a group that is growing all the time, are willing to question their own status as the “default” group.
In my lifetime, and I am no spring chicken, there has always been a Pride or LGBTQ movement in some shape or form. Those of us born after 1969 have never known a world in which there was no one standing up for us. Many more of us, my nephews’ and nieces’ generation, have never lived in a world where the general consensus was that it is OK to kill a gay person if they freaked you out with their sexuality. No we are not where we want to be, but we are also not where we were: all of us stuck in the closet, hated by our families, threatened with jail time for what we did in the privacy of our own bedrooms and all the while wondering what was wrong with us.
So let us celebrate the gains and use that momentum to get the rest of the way home. I have confidence it can happen in my lifetime. Happy Pride everyone, gay, straight and all!