(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
It’s been less than a year since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in all 50 states. That decision marked a major milestone for the LGBT community. But as commentator Daniel Rostas argues, the country has a long way to go in terms of accepting its non-straight citizens.
ROSTAS: “Everybody wants gay friends. Not everyone wants gay kids.”
That’s a line from Straight, a show about a man struggling with his sexuality that I saw on Tuesday night.
And it makes a good point.
Just because same sex marriage is now finally legal in all 50 states does not mean everything is suddenly okay for queer people in North America.
Our society is built on thousands of years of assuming that heterosexuality is the default. It can be hard to wrap your head around the ways it shuts people out if they don’t meet that standard.
Growing up gay in North America isn’t glamorous. It’s not fashionable. It may not be as dangerous as lots of other places in the world.
But at a very young age, you get the sense that you’re different. You get the sense that there’s a lot of people out there who hate you for that. That’s before you live through decades of homophobic slurs and hostility, and in far too many cases, violence.
A Supreme Court judgment forcing states to let us get married doesn’t take that lived experience away. I know it’s too ingrained in me and several of my gay friends for it to ever go away – it definitely won’t heal the scars of older generations of gay men in this country, who had it much worse than I ever did.
Think about this – and don’t worry, you don’t have to tell anyone – but do you still take some kind of special notice when you see a same sex couple being affectionate in public?
I know I do.
I know the first time I held hands in public with a boy, walking by the lake in a small town in Ontario, people stared.
They didn’t attack us, they didn’t say anything – but they certainly took special notice. Last week I saw a gay couple cuddling on a Megabus and I almost wanted to … congratulate them?
Someday, I hope – I really hope – we won’t notice these insignificant things.
We haven’t gotten to that point yet.
In 2016 in America, I still have to read news about a gay couple that had boiling water poured on them by one of their stepfathers as they slept – this happened in February. In Georgia.
I still have to read about North Carolina forbidding cities from passing local anti-discrimination laws because the city of Charlotte tried to protect its LGBT residents.
Gay men still can’t give blood unless they’ve been abstinent for a year – even though all blood is tested for HIV and other diseases. So – why the limitation on gay men? Are we unclean? Are we not trustworthy? What is it, exactly?
So the next time you’re feeling super progressive for watching Drag Race or Ellen… ask yourself what the people you’re watching had to endure to get where they are today.
Ask yourself – if one of your siblings brought a same-sex partner to a family wedding, how would that go over?
How would you feel if one of your parents sat you down and told you they were homosexual?
I don’t have the answers.
But I think it’s worth remembering that when it comes to how we treat non-straight people in America in 2016, we haven’t figured everything out just yet. And we can only do that by asking these difficult questions.
Daniel Rostas thinks it’s so nice of you to offer to set him up with someone. Is it the only other gay person you know? That’s what he thought.