We are caught in a dance my friends, one of progress and regression, diversions and delays. The Human Rights Movement has, in the past months, splintered, moving forward, backward, and every whichway, leaving us confused as to whether we should be celebrating or protesting and where we should go from here.
We achieved monumental success in New York last month when the state voted to legalize gay marriage, after years of debate and failed attempts (the senate voted on it back in 2009 as well, and fell short, despite impassioned and infallible arguments such as this). Every state we win is a milestone victory, bringing us just a tad closer to feeling equal, and what is infinitely more important, normal. The country had held its breath as we waited for the chorus of ayes in the tiny room that would decide the fate of millions of New Yorkers, and messages of congratulations arose all over the internet in united support of the new law. One step forward.
In almost immediate response to the passage of the new law, the House of Representatives ordered the Pentagon to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and prohibits the Pentagon from granting same sex benefits to gay couples. In spite of the fact that the Obama administration has previously announced that they will no longer utilize DOMA, the government is still running rampant to retain any anti-gay power they once wielded. Likewise, they are dragging their feet on fully repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell on the grounds that more studies need to be conducted to ensure no negative long term effects will befall the armed forces. One step back, but we had a comeback on the way.
Just a few days ago Governor Jerry Brown of California signed the Gay History Law, requiring that "all contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books" specifically the homosexuals. Now when I first read of this news, I have to admit I was a little apprehensive, given that this was a keynote argument of the proponents of Prop 8, that if gays were granted the rights to marry, children would be taught about homosexuality in school. However, after careful thought and consideration, it becomes clear that this is not about homosexuality, this is about things people accomplished who simply happened to be gay. Children will not be taught about gay culture: glitter and rainbows, U-Hauling and scissoring, it will simply be "John made this, Sara did that and by the way, they were gay". Arguments are already flying as opponents of the bill gear up for a fight, concerned their children will be taught to accept homosexuality. Yeah, they probably will, so fight as hard as you can, because God forbid a public school system teach your children the horrors of open-mindedness, tolerance, and respect for their peers. God forbid as a direct result, school bullying and GLBT harassment and suicides might go down. A flying leap across the stage, but with a shaky landing.
As the GLBT movement/argument takes the forefront and extremists come out in opposition of equality, our children are being exposed to hate that is reminiscent of the Civil Rights Movement: discrimination of a group of individuals who are different, therefore viewed to be inferior and treated violently. A recent report published by the LA Times has found that anti-gay homicides have risen 13% since 2009, a number which is more than likely grossly underestimated given that not all homicides are automatically classified as hate crimes, as many states have no inclusion of hate crimes for gays in their law books. Even in California, where a transgender man was killed in a university bathroom and had the word "It" carved on his chest, it took a fair amount of advocacy to declare the crime as motivated by hate. And the harassment and violence that don't result in death isn't even considered in this report. Protests, hate speech, and abuse is undoubtedly on the rise as well. Even I was the subject of an attack not too long ago; though I haven't been exposed to much harassment since high school, mostly because I actively hid my sexuality from most people until about 2 years ago, it knocked on my front door (or rather, my Facebook wall) when a friend's account had been hacked and a post was left on my wall calling me a faggot and lamenting that I should die, among other things. Others were hacked as well, but whether or not this was a generalized hacker post or dedicated directly toward me, it stung a bit. Spin and fall.
The tension surrounding gays since the Prop 8 aftermath has widened divisions across the country, and as we disjointedly progress toward equality, the score will climax and hostilities will surge in a final encore before the show is over and the curtain falls. There will be jumps, skips, stumbles, and falls, but we must take the wins, however small, when they come in order to strengthen ourselves for the fights and losses we will inevitably face before we reach our goal. Amid the frustration and anger, sadness and tears, I just keep telling myself, we will get there someday, we just have to keep fighting. What other option do we have?