Progress? Yes, please.
When I was a kid, I did not know about homosexuality. At all. I had no idea boys could like boys and girls could like girls. Today, that knowledge seems innate, although I know that’s untrue.
We left the former Soviet Union when I was 11 and I knew nothing (and was allowed to know nothing). However, when I learned some boys love boys and some girls love girls, I wasn’t phased by any of it. You can call me a “liberal” all you’d like, not sure when that word became so controversial. I like to think my parents raised me to be open-minded. Truly, it doesn’t matter. I am who I am and I believe what I believe.
Back in the Soviet Union, homosexuality wasn’t discussed. Ever. Prior to the Russian Revolution, homosexuality was illegal and homosexuals were often burned to death. Yes, burned. Yet, the consequence of death by burning, didn’t stop a LGTB subculture from emerging. (I don’t know about you, but I definitely would not choose to be someone who could possibly be killed by fire. I accidentally touched the lid to my slow cooker the other day and cried in agony. No thanks! So, ya know, probably not a choice.) After the civil war, the new Communist Party actually eradicated the old anti-homosexuality laws, yet those who wanted to be a part of the Communist party still had to be married to the members of the opposite sex. Later, Stalin established Article 121, which once again made (male) homosexuality illegal, and about 1000 people per year were persecuted and sent to hard labor prison camps. (Side note: lesbianism wasn’t illegal; isn’t that something?) By 1993, homosexuality was legalized and eventually removed from the list of mental disorders. Yet, since Putin’s reign began, homosexuality is once again punishable, and young, gay men and women have been desperately seeking asylum in the US due to constant fear of harassment or death. So, there’s that.
This brings me to my next point: The United States of America. The home of the brave. The home of the free. What took so long, peeps? I mean, we aren’t living in Soviet Russia. Or, Putin’s Russia. In the USA, I can text while driving my tank to a fast-food joint, smoke a cigarette prior to walking in, order a double-deep fried “cheeseburger” and XXL soda (for only an extra $.35), then drive my tank to a gun shop where I can purchase an automatic weapon, drink a bottle of vodka when I get home, and turn my backyard into a shooting range. All legal. All undoubtedly dangerous. But, until two weeks ago, I couldn’t walk over to city hall and marry a girl. I guess homosexuals don’t have too many lobbyists fighting for them (like the tobacco industry, the alcohol industry, and the gun industry have). Furthermore, we are talking about basic human rights here. It’s infuriating to know that those “working” in government control who we are allowed to marry. How is that even a legislative decision?
Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court finally legalized gay marriage, and the country rejoiced (well, not the ENTIRE country, but about half did). And, although I saw numerous posts and heard many conversations about how the ruling was a step in the right direction, but was still a very small step and there are many more battles left to fight, I have to slightly disagree with that last part. I see the new decree as a giant leap in the right direction, but for a slightly different reason. This ruling proves the people are changing. Slowly.
When I was in high school, there were always rumors about “this gay kid” or “that lesbian,” but overall, we did not have openly gay kids. Fourteen years ago (wowie, that seems like forever ago), high school kids were still majorly bullied for coming out, so they chose not to. I remember a few years after my college graduation, I logged into Facebook to find out that at least 10 students from my high school graduating class came out during or after college. That means something.
Fourteen years ago there was not a single openly gay student in my graduating class. Currently, there are at least 2 in each one of my classrooms. To me, that is huge. To me, that means that kids are more progressive and so are their parents. To me, that means more parents are teaching their children about humanity and civil rights. Yes, the progress is slow, because humans are stubborn. Equality is far away and the battles and fights will continue. But, we are moving in the right direction. Slowly, but surely.
Every day, our children learn about different types of families. They learn that their best friend has two dads; the girl next door has one mom and no dad, and a classmate lives with her grandparents. Our children are born open-minded, and many of us decide to quickly and permanently “fix” that. I fail to understand the rationale. I understand fear drives us, but what’s there to fear? None of this is “the unknown.”
A few days ago, HONY posted a photograph of a young boy. The boy was clearly crying when the picture was taken and the caption under the photo read: “I’m homosexual and I’m afraid about what my future will be and that people won’t like me.” The photograph is heartbreaking, but the message is even more devastating. Apparently, only a little over 50% of the country is pro gay marriage; that number is scandalous. I don’t care what your religious beliefs are, how you were raised, and whatever other reason you think homosexuality is “wrong.” What’s wrong is this boy crying and fearing for his future because of who he is. It’s wrong that we are teaching our children hate and bigotry rather than love and kindness. It’s wrong to breed intolerance. But, half of the country is against someone else’s basic rights to happiness. I get it, with every generation, we become more advanced. We innovate, we modernize, and we adapt and expand. And, it all takes a while because we really are resistant to change. But, human liberties should not take this long. Think of your child. Think of how you would react if your child came home in tears because someone told her she wasn’t “normal.” How would you react? I would fight. I would fight for my child in any way I possibly could. And, I would fight for other children. Because children deserve a country of open-minds, not a country full of hate.
When I told my 6 year old about the Supreme Court decision, she looked at me and asked, “So, boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls?”
“Yes, honey,” I answered.
“Oh. Ok. But, I’m gonna marry Papa,” she exclaimed.
I gave her a kiss and told her she’s pretty awesome. So, there’s that.
Till next time,
Originally published at aglimpseofthepast.wordpress.com on July 7, 2015.