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Are We There Yet?

Let’s examine our progress to date

We’ve been at this equality and justice thing for a long time now. Seems like we should start prepping for our “Mission Accomplished” photo op. We’ve come so far.

But nope. Sorry. We’re not there yet. 

Oh, we’ve definitely made progress. Just look at our movement’s milestone achievements. Homosexuality officially stopped rating as a mental disorder in 1973. Our sex lives were decriminalized in 2003. In 2009, it became a federal offense to beat us up. The military stopped considering us a threat to “cohesiveness” and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was overturned in 2011. At last count, 17 states and D.C. recognize same-sex marriages, and a whopping 75 percent of young adults support our freedom to marry. When just a decade ago there were no openly queer TV stars or talk-show hosts, out butch dyke Ellen rules daytime talk and the Oscars. And now “God Hates Fags” mastermind Fred Phelps has finally died. Did homophobia die too?

If only!

Queer-hating is still here, but can we, just for now, spare ourselves the depressing evidence? Of course we still have rampant harassment, bullying, abuse and discrimination. It’s still legal in the U.S. to fire or refuse to hire LGBTQ Americans. We have way too many queer kids getting kicked out of their families, living on the streets, considering and committing suicide. We have haters on the loose attacking lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people. But, for the moment, could we please skip the gruesome details and just stipulate that ignorance, bigotry and violence against us continue to gouge potholes in our long road to freedom? Thank you.

Like lots of other LGBTQ folks, my wife and I have nestled into our comfort zones. We live in a mostly progressive state in a mostly queer-friendly town. Our next-door neighbors have our backs. We both work in jobs where we don’t have to hide or tone down who we are. We belong to a welcoming congregation and were married by our rabbi. We are blessed with a wealth of queer friends and queer-supportive straight friends. Our day-to-day lives rarely bump into threatening homophobic situations. 

We also benefit from the privileges of being white, educated and not living in poverty. With privilege comes responsibility. That’s why I speak up and interrupt homophobic jokes, stereotypes and assumptions and educate in every teachable moment. I’m not trying to be a buzzkill, I just refuse to let heterosexism kill my own buzz. I am visible and verbal about who I am, even (or especially) when it makes others uncomfortable. I know that showing my pride and self-acceptance inspires others to get on board.

There’s a reason public sentiment has shifted. It’s thousands and thousands of people like me, queer people, along with millions of our allies, being ourselves and sharing the truth of our lives with our families, friends, neighbors, congregations and coworkers. And with our elected representatives. And our president. We keep pushing because our lives depend on it. We can see the day when we are all safe, free to be our whole selves, included in every aspect of society, and treated equally and protected under the law.

We’re not there yet, but victory is within sight. We’re getting closer and we’re going faster. Whee!