This is what is on my mind on this cold Monday Morning.
I was thinking about marriage equality this morning. I do understand the legal importance of everyone having the right to marry. I get that completely. I remember the excitement and the joy I felt the day we all were given that particular right. I am sure you felt very much the same way. However, as time passes I have begun to question not only the importance of that decision, but also what might have been the intent behind it. In some ways, I have to sit here and laugh for the pure conspiracy theory sound of that statement. First, let me say I am completely for our right to marry who we choose. There is no question about that portion of this. I have also been extremely proud every single time I have been honored to celebrate the marriage between two of my friends.
However, with the passing of time I have found myself questioning if maybe marriage equality is a pacifier of sorts for a much larger problem. What is that problem? The normalization of the gay community to not only conform into the heterosexual world, but an attempt to take away what makes us unique. It really, up to this point, has seemed to, unintentionally or intentionally, quiet the activism surrounding what it is to be gay. Acceptance is not something which is making those who are different from you to become more like you. This is not accepting those differences between us, in essence, it is actually an attempt to erase those differences.
There is nothing wrong with being different from the person standing next to you. It is what has always made this country great. The great big melting pot experiment is one which should celebrate our differences and not one which takes those differences and normalize them to fit in with what might be considered a majority norm. Over the past years, I have seen all of the different aspects which made our movement great begin to dwindle. We are seeing the death of the traditional bars which have always been our gathering places and now we spend our nights within these places celebrating alongside of Bachelorette parties who think it is cool to get drunk with the queer community. We do not say much and in a way you can almost feel the collective relief that we are getting to participate in the tribal practices of heterosexuality. I cannot help but feeling, we are playing into their hand somehow and we are suppose to now somehow be like them. I know personally it has left me scratching my head and, more often than not, wondering where we are headed. It also leaves me wondering if we have sold out our culture in order to conform. This is just one example. There are many.
If you can find a silver lining anywhere in the current political climate, it should be the wake up call which we have all been given. The wake up call is, we are actually not like them at all and they clearly have not either accepted us or they accept us for the most part as long as we conform to their idea what our culture and lives are all about. I for one am not ready to either become complacent and I sure in the hell do not want to conform to the heterosexual world which may work for them, but it clearly does not work for me or us. I am not sure where this leaves us in the scheme of things, but I do know the last thing we need to is to normalize.
Yesterday, I participated in a march in downtown St. Louis which some would tell you was a referendum against Donald Trump. Well, in some ways that might be true, but I tend to think it was a much broader and far reaching message than just an election. In my opinion, it was a gathering of all types of people to celebrate and stand up for our differences. It was a message that our differences and our togetherness in those differences is what makes us great. I am happy as hell we can marry, but what I am not happy about is that it now feels as if it was something given in order to silence our voices and kill the passion of who we culturally are.
This is most likely one of the most controversial things you will ever read me write, but it is the thought which has been haunting to me for quite some time now. I do not think those who came before us, were fighting for us to conform and disappear. The reason I believe they were fighting and I was fighting, was to be accepted for our differences, the acceptance of our culture. This did not mean the death of it by giving over to normalization. In order to normalize would suggest there was something wrong with who we were to begin with. There is nothing clearly wrong with us, we are just different. It seems to me this has been a well overdue wake up call which we currently have been given here. The result is the reawakening of our demand of the acceptance of our culture without the permission to erase our differences in return.
Marching down the street, I took a moment to look beside me and in front of me. First of all, protesting is the most American thing you can do. This country was built on people standing up and letting their voices be heard. The overwhelming thing which struck me is I was marching with my fellow LGBT, Muslim, Black, Latino, families, young people children, friends, neighbors and yes even strangers. All walks of life were represented and we were marching in a common cause which was a common voice. It seems to me that unified voice said, “You will celebrate our differences without marginalizing us, hating us, and we are going to make you accept us for our differences without diminishing them. We refuse to be normalized or erased.” Yes, it was clear to me this was a wake up call for all communities and minorities. It is not just a gay issue, but a human issue. I have never in that moment felt so connected with a group of people and I have never felt more proud to be an American. A true Patriot in a sense.
So yes, things are changing. Yes, there years ahead of us which could be challenging. But the most important thing we need to do is to understand this wake up call for what it is. We can survive this because we have done it before. Actions speak louder than words, and it is becoming crystal clear that a storm is brewing against those who are different in this country. We can weather this storm, but it also means we are going to have to stick together while embracing our differences in the process. We gathered together yesterday in our differences to celebrate them and also to send a clear message in one unified voice we are not going to go quietly away and we are not going to conform. I am a proud American Gay Man, there are a lot of people who fought for my right to say those words. Who I am, is not going to melt away and I refuse to be silent.
That is what has been running through my mind on this cold Monday morning. Pretty heavy stuff, isn’t? I celebrate and accept each of you. All I ask in return from you is to be celebrated and accepted for my differences without being normalized. You cannot, and we will not, let you erase the rich history which is part of the fabric of not only gay history, but the history of this country as a whole. In return, I vow to do the same for you. Pretty simple, isn’t? We need to stop allowing leaders in this country to divide us and use us for political means and agendas. That is really what should make you angry. It is not the person sitting next to you who is your enemy. The enemy is the people who would like to use ALL of our differences against us.
So I sit here thinking, but thinking is not enough. It is going to take us going into the streets together to let our voices be heard. It is going to take us sharing our individual thoughts and feelings. It is going to take us accepting the person next to us and loving them for being different without trying to make them more like us. If we lose this fight, we will take our lives either back fifty years or we will head into a frightening future where everyone is required to be the same. George Orwell’s, 1984 comes to mind at the moment. Big Brother would like nothing more to strip our individuality away from us in order to make it easier to control us. Let’s get vocal and fight to make sure this does not happen. Truly, that is the most American thing we can do in the face of this oncoming storm.