There’s no denying that in recent years we’ve seen amazing progress in our community: the end of officially sanctioned discrimination against gays in the military, the legal recognition of marriage equality, the cultural shift toward a society ready for us to step out of the closet and be ourselves.
People have predicted it: that as the generation who grew up watching Will & Grace reached voting age, the laws would change; that a day would come when gay kids could reveal their sexuality without the fear of rejection that so many of us experienced; that a picture of an ideal American family could feature two happily married dads. But I doubt even extreme optimists would have predicted all of these milestones would happen so quickly.
As with other significant advances in civil rights, change is often followed by backlash. In some cases, it’s been legislative. As I write this, 22 state legislatures are considering bills that could either permit judges to refuse to marry same-sex couples or permit businesses to deny services to LGBT customers or deny people access to certain bathrooms. It reminds us there are still places in this country where the prevailing public sentiment toward LGBT people is as hostile as it was decades ago.
In other cases, individuals have attacked our community directly. The most shocking of these is the massacre in Orlando. As I learned about the 49 people lost that night, I couldn’t help noticing how many were in their 20s and 30s. These were kids who were just out for a good time on a Saturday night with like-minded friends. It’s particularly sad to think that many of them grew up not expecting to face this kind of hate. They were looking forward to lives of unprecedented freedom from sexuality-related discrimination. To take the hate a step further, Baptist Pastor Roger Jimenez later chimed in to say the real tragedy is “that more of them didn’t die.” I’m continually shocked by this sort of behavior — not only to see the hate that stems from a very small number of people with radical ideas, but then to hear them echoed by those that people supposedly look up to as moral examples.
Ultimately what’s important is that we don’t let it stop us from moving in a positive direction. In that spirit, Metrosource staff gathered at Pride events in the wake of the tragedy, in part to show that we will not live in fear of being ourselves. After all, isn’t that what we’ve been fighting for?
Last modified: June 12, 2018