Forty six years ago the Stonewall Riots kick started the LGBT rights movement in the United States. This week, the Supreme Court stated that marriage equality was a constitutional right.
A lot of people have suffered and died in the United States fighting for queer rights and true equality. Obviously there are many things to still fight for to achieve equality and justice. But we need to celebrate this stepping stone. This needs to be celebrated, because now we know we can fight and win. It seemed almost strange, like a fluke in 2004 when marriage equality first passed in Massachusetts. There had decades of fighting and only one success in Massachusetts. I couldn’t image that in less than 15 years the Supreme Court would rule in favor of marriage equality. That the White House would shine rainbow colors in celebration and the Vice President of the United States would be running around with a rainbow flag.
It’s important to not be complacent in victory, but fueled and empowered to continue to fight for the rights of queer homeless youth and immigrants, trans rights, and anti discriminatory laws. We shouldn’t be cynical towards the marriage ruling because of the other issues, but we should use the force of the marriage equality movement to make our voices louder and to continue to push for queer rights.
Have a glass of wine, a cake, a parade. Let’s keep going.
As I have gotten older I realized how much my dad and I are alike. And how painfully different we are. Through these similarities and differences we have grown and evolved our relationship into something I feel very lucky to have. Not all people have great relationships with their dad, and for LGBT people the tension and strain on the relationship with their fathers can be a lot worse.
It wasn’t always like that for us. My dad converted to from Judaism to Catholicism when I was 8. As time went on his faith grew, and mine began to wither. When I was a teenager he became a deacon. I had pretty much given up on my Catholic roots, but we were able to agree to disagree on topics concerning the church. We knew we weren’t going to change each other’s minds so having debates and discussions stayed interesting and respectful.
When I finally fully came out to myself in the winter of 2009 I was absolutely terrified to tell my parents, especially my dad. He’s an active member of the Church and I didn’t know how he would react to me being a lesbian.
In reality I had nothing to worry about, but when it was time to tell him I had to do it through a full blown panic attack. How could someone so deeply cemented in his faith, a faith that actively preaches against my existence, accept his daughter for who she was?
As a child one of the things that has constantly annoyed me about my dad was that he is able to achieve almost perfect cognitive dissonance. He’s able to hold onto two completely opposing beliefs without having one contradict the other. I couldn’t believe at the time that he would be able to do the same again, putting his daughter in a separate box away from his beliefs?
I realized that the part of my dad that had annoyed me for most of my childhood was one of his most endearing qualities. It’s admirable that he has the ability to love his children the way that they are without it challenging or shaking his faith. In a world where everything feels like an inseparable tangled web he has been able to divide perfectly into his boxes – making sense and order out of chaos.
In his world his faith compliments and strengthens his love for his children, and vice versa. I may never understand how he does it, but I’m lucky to have him.
The news and social media have been inundated with Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out and transition, so obviously it has become the hot topic around the water cooler at work.
If I had a dollar every time I walked by and overhead someone talk about her with the wrong pronouns, or something generally stupid, I could probably take a nice vacation. But I really don’t know people in other departments so I really didn’t feel like it was my place to speak up. This is frustrating in itself. Just because I’m a lesbian doesn’t mean I’m the pronoun, gender, and sexuality police.
Then it came up in my department. I was preparing for it, but hoping I didn’t need to interject. It’s not like most people were saying things purposely wrong or ignorant but it made me cringe nonetheless. My brain really started to race. Do I say something, and if I do speak up how do I not sound like a condescending asshole. Teaching moments are fast and fleeting, and a hard tone or a judgmental look could ruin the entire moment.
I really have a hard time finding the right time and the right place to speak up. When I’m with people I know and I’m comfortable with I’ll tell them they’re wrong in less than a heartbeat. Coworkers or strangers – am I being too aggressive? What is my tone like? Do I really need to speak up now? Surely someone else will speak up?
Eventually I put on my big girl pants and jumped into the conversation, not correcting their language, but just using the correct pronouns. And then something fantastic happened – they self-corrected their language. It’s like I had magical queer powers.
I do believe that most people want to be truly opened minded and understand. That if they say something wrong it’s out of ignorance and not maliciousness. I’m not entirely naïve, I know that sometimes people are just bigoted and downright terrible. That sometimes you do have to hit people over the head with how wrong they are. Other times, luckily, you can guide the conversation in a way that lets people figure it out for themselves.
I’m proud of Caitlyn and her journey – that she (like many other LGBT celebrities) is empowering so many people to learn and grow into truly open-minded and understanding people.