I didn’t want to write this blog. I almost didn’t write it.
It’s 2015. We are living each and every day with mind blowing amounts of technology right at our fingertips. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Available to a huge number of individuals, spanning a large section on the socioeconomic continuum. It isn’t unheard of for a homeless person to have a smartphone.
We are living in the future; smack dab in the middle of the age of information.
Let me say that again… we are living smack dab in the middle of the age of information. It’s all right there at our fingertips….
We were still, until today... as a nation, asking love to fit inside the boundaries of assigned gender roles. Asking love to leave us feeling comfortable.
And this is even still a thing? Seriously?
I didn’t want to write this blog because I haven’t seriously thought about queer activism or queer rights in an embarrassingly long time. I’ve just been living my life. Though it hasn’t always been that simple.
I came out just after Matthew Shepard died. Or… let me rephrase that, I came out just after Matthew Shepard was pistol whipped, tied to a fence and left to die in the cold. His face covered in blood, except the trail his tears left behind on his cheeks. I remember turning on the news...and, for days, hoping against hope that love would win and all those candlelight vigils, those prayers trapped in the beating hearts of all of us that felt somehow connected…How hard I hoped that he’d pull through.
On October 12th, 1998, Matthew Shepard was pronounced dead.
I remember hearing the announcement on the news, and then looking towards the television as if seeing the faces of the newscasters would somehow ease my aching heart. My eyes rained sadness down on my cheeks and I decided then and there the closet was too cramped of a space for me. That my silence was nothing but the voice of complicity in a society that still saw fit to spit in the face of love.
I came out in the days that followed. I was 16 years old.
I still remember how very hard things still were for queer folk in the late 90’s. I remember how hard my friends and I fought our local school board to include gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered folks in the district’s non-discrimination policy. I was quoted in the newspaper on several occasions; my catholic grandma worried what the neighbors would think. Then there was the night she saw me on the evening news-- if the tv knew, now so did all her friends. She was even more worried. I was attacked on the school bus in the 9th grade over a queer button I had pinned to my backpack, and then suspended for the part I played in the attack… fighting back.
Threats and verbal harassment were par for the course.
There were the friends whose parents disowned them; friends whose school environment was so hellish, friends whose home environment was so unsupportive, that every single day they saw through to the end was a victory. There were the friends that contemplated suicide and the friends that attempted it. Thank goodness all the queer kids I grew up with survived their teen years.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that I came out during the tail end of the heart of the struggle...one that spanned decades. And I know I had it better than the generation before me. And they had it better than the generation before them. From Stonewall to Matthew Shepard...to the here and now.
For too long we’ve been told to hide; to feel ashamed...if our love sits somewhere just outside of social convention.
And *you*.. you there!...daring to love someone whose junk matches yours exactly, instead of a more polite, socially acceptable matching set. Until today, you were not afforded the basic human right of promising yourself to another human soul. Until today, you were less than.
I almost didn’t write this blog today… until Nikki reminded me how important this moment is. And then I couldn’t let it pass without raising a glass to all of those who fought for this.
It’s about damn time.
Stonewall happened on June 28th, 1969.
Today is the day that the federal supreme court legalized gay marriage nationwide.
It’s been almost 46 years to the day.
And it’s about. damn. time.
The human race has taken another step towards awakening.