Sunday, June 28, 2015

Gay Marriage Legal in the US!

In the early nineties, I came out while living in a college dorm. People in the community were surprised at the guts it took to do so (back then it was a big deal). Also at that time, there was no thought of being able to marry or adopt children. Furthermore, plenty of people still referred to AIDS as a 'gay cancer', people could be fired and kicked out of housing for being gay, and families sometimes swore off children who came out or kicked them out leaving them homeless. I personally was discriminated against when I was outed to one of my first post-college employers. Back then, being gay was something you had to keep hidden, and that secretiveness allowed bigots to call us pedophiles, perverts, and deviants - anything they liked - and get away with it.

Yet, despite all of that negativity, I knew then and believe now that coming out was one of the best things I ever did. A person simply can't function in a healthy manner when they hide their 'truth' and, after coming out, I quickly learned that the feelings I had hidden for so many years were nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, there were millions of people just like me all over the world and in all walks of life. My feelings were natural and good and denying them was unnatural and self-destructive.

As recently as even a few years ago, I had no notion that we'd reach this point and that - in my lifetime - I would see the LGBT community allowed to have the same rights as other Americans. But this week I am so happy to see that I was wrong and that change can happen, though it takes time and work to move the minds of decent, fair-minded people and to trounce the hate of bigots.

What was so amazing about this Supreme Court process was that the coverage of the testimony before the Court revealed just how hollow the arguments of the bigots rang. They truly lacked any credible position once they actually had to defend their bigotry against a vocal opposition. That vocal opposition was made possible by the hard work of committed activists, but it was also made possible over decades by the quiet efforts of the varied members of the LGBT community who stopped keeping their truth hidden. As more and more of us came out and spoke out, the ranks of our straight allies expanded. The more they saw that gay people - while different - were in all important ways - exactly the same as themselves, the more impossible it became for bigots to scare anyone into continued discrimination.

To me this fact and the ruling shows the truth of a slogan that originally arose in the LGBT community during the fight against HIV/AIDS. Later it became something of a rallying cry for coming out, speaking out, standing up for oneself, and being proud of who you are in order to affect change: Silence = Death.

While the United States is not perfect and we do make mistakes...this is one day and one act that I can point to as proof that what we try to be as a country is good and just. It's also an example of us embodying our principles in a positive way, and by that example leading the world. It reaffirms my pride in being an American.

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