Not to bring anyone down, but it needs to be said.
I have been postponing writing about my feelings on marriage equality for a very long time for many reasons, mainly because it is something I feel so incredibly strongly about that I never thought I would be able to put all of my feelings into words at once. So, today, this historic day, June 26th, 2015, the day when marriage equality was achieved throughout all of the United States, I will try my hardest to express my feelings all at once. I will likely fail, but there are some things that are just too important to not say today.
I am so, indescribably happy about what has happened today. I am happy that my friends and I can now marry whomever we fall in love with. I am happy that people who have been in happy, healthy relationships for years now finally have the opportunity to marry the people they fell in love with. I am happy that everyone in my country is now free to build or destroy relationships the way straight people have been for years. I am also so very, very happy for all the things this means. This means child custody and hospital visitation and health insurance and all the other perks that go along with actually being married.
Yet, I am also sad, and angry, and scared. I feel this way because this means that the majority of people will think that the fight is over (at least here in America). It means that people will stop seeing homophobia. They will say things like, “You got your marriage equality, what more could you possibly want,” and, “You accomplished your goal, now go away.” People will think that the discrimination against anyone not straight is over. Now, this might be a huge milestone, a giant leap towards equality, but not big enough, this is far from over.
Yes, now anyone can get married, but can anyone walk down the street, holding the hand of someone they love without getting dirty looks or crude remarks or being physically attacked? Can anyone kiss their significant other without fear of parents screeching about having to explain it to their children? Can any child, discovering who they are, live without the fear of having to explain to their parents what makes them happy? Can absolutely anyone and everyone live without fear of being attacked, emotionally, mentally, or physically, for something that makes them happy?
Homophobia has not gone away with a simple legal verdict. There still people that are not safe walking down the street and there are still children afraid to live in their homes.
Then of course there is the heteronormativity issue. People need to ‘come out’ to nearly everyone they meet because they are assumed to be straight. It is nerve racking. Meeting new people becomes an anxiety ridden roller coaster of, “when is it appropriate to tell them and how will they react?” There is an ‘assume straight until proven otherwise’ policy that desperately needs to change. A weeks old boy will be called a lady’s man, teenage girls are asked whether they have a boyfriend yet, toddlers of the opposite sex seen together are asked when they are getting married. The heteronormative culture is forced onto people from such a young age and can be incredibly harmful in their growing process. Not only that, but it perpetuates homophobia, and will now aid in making homophobia invisible now that we have marriage equality.
I knew when I started writing this that I would not be able to finish it or even think of all the things I wanted to say, and I know the next few days will be full of me thinking, “Damn, I should have written (insert facts about something really important and relevant)” but it is completely unrealistic for me to think I could touch on all the issues. I am sure I will eventually write about discrimination within the LGBTQ+ community, my distress over marriage equality still not being achieved in other countries, more issues with heteronormativity and so-called ‘homophobia,’ and many other issues concerning these topics; however, if you leave reading this with one message, let it be this: our struggle is far from over. So, celebrate, enjoy this milestone, but be prepared for everything to get harder.