Purple shirts made a come back on October 20 2010 as many GLBTQ supporters wore them proudly in remembrance of all of the GLBTQ youth that have taken their own lives recently. Some individuals didn’t want to be as obvious in their support, and sported purple socks that their trousers covered, others went as far as to make YouTube videos and color their hair purple in remembrance trying to make their statement count. No matter if you showed support by wearing purple this past Wednesday or if you show your support by blogging for equality, talking with others, volunteering, or even just standing up for GLBTQ individuals when you see inequality in public or behind the scenes, your efforts and kindness are beyond appreciated. I am thankful and lucky to have a supportive circle around me now, but it wasn’t always that way. I could tell all of the GLBTQ youth out there that “It gets better”, like many others are screaming from the rooftops right now or posting status messages on Facebook, but I have a different message to tell not only the GLBTQ youth out there but also any one else who may have stumbled upon this blog entry. I am not going to sugarcoat the truth to the GLBTQ youth out there, things may get better, but they are far from perfect, and they even fall short of being acceptable in terms of equality.
It is unacceptable that so many of us are reassuring GLBTQ youth that things will get better for them, when there are still so many issues that affect the gay and lesbian community that need to be addressed and fixed before we can make a promise of that certitude to our youth. I am not attempting to crush the hopes of life getting better, because it does get better in many ways, but that does not mean it is good enough.
These recent suicides make me remember a very scary and unsure time in my life, I knew the way I felt for other girls wasn’t the same as most of my classmates. I was thirteen years old and actually used the line “what would you do if I kissed you right now” on my best friend and as cheesy as that line was, it worked, and I experienced my first real kiss with another girl. I fell hard for this girl, it broke my heart when she told me the next morning that it could never happen again, that it was too weird for her. I was pleasantly surprised when she changed her mind and we began exploring our sexuality more. She became my first girlfriend. It felt so natural, so normal; I realized others didn’t feel the same way until I told others about my feelings for her. Not only was I ridiculed, beat up and harassed on a daily basis but my first girlfriend said it was all a lie that I had made up. While it broke my heart, it sure kept her from being ridiculed and bullied. My grades dropped, I got into fights at school, I was called all of the derogatory names you can imagine. I wanted to die. I couldn’t imagine a life that was like that every single day.
Obviously, I am writing this today, so I didn’t commit suicide, although I would be blatantly lying if I said it had never crossed my mind. Instead I decided to lie to the world. I dated a guy who was in high school. I went back into the closet and tried to be as normal and heterosexual like as possible. I lied about who I was for years, in fear of living through the ridicule and harassment that I endured when I was younger.
As I got older and I came back out of the closet after years of having the door locked tight, it did get better, it was easier, that is not a complete lie. It became easier because when you are in college and beyond you choose the people you want to associate with on a daily basis, you seek out friends that are like you or that accept you. You learn how to cope with the assholes that go around and still call you names and harass you. But there are some things that don’t change and they will not change until more of those around us begin to recognize the inequality and decide to do something about it.
I want to know if it gets so much better, then why is it in the majority of the United States can you still not marry the person you love if you just so happen to be of the same gender? Why is it that it is still legal in many states to be kicked out of a dining establishment for being homosexual? Why is it legal that homosexual couples can still be denied housing in many places? What about all of the states we still can not adopt a child in? What about the states that we can adopt but there is not second parent adoption rights? What about the states that say I can not go into the hospital and visit my loved one because I am not considered “real” family? What about those GLBTQ individuals who have been denied employment and under the law in many areas that is still perfectly legal? What about my friends who have been escorted out of the bathroom by police because someone was afraid they weren’t really a girl because of their short hair cut?
Sure, some things get better, but don’t sugarcoat the truth of what the future holds. This world, our country, is full of hate and injustice. The injustice is unacceptable, and while it may “get better” the level of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identification is not going to get better without more support. There is still a long way to fight in the battle for equality and while many GLBTQ youth see no other way out but suicide, we need to band together and give this next generation something to live for without candy coating it.
While there is a serious lack of equality surrounding the GLBTQ community, there is still so much to live for. Even if your friends and family are not accepting at first, give them some time, they may come around. If they do not, then create your own family, there is support out there. There is love out there waiting for you. I was lucky enough to find my wife and although I was not able to legally get married in my home state of Ohio, or even my own country at the time, we are legally married in Canada and I look forward to the day we can renew our vows and are legally recognized right here. We have friends and family who support us. Sure there have been obstacles along the way, but you learn to cope, to get past it, to learn that the pros of living outweigh the cons.
To all the GLBTQ youth out there reading this, the future will not magically get better and an easier life to live will not magically appear. But there is something worth living for, the chance that one day you can take part in helping band together with all generations of GLBTQ individuals and help make it a better place for future generations; stick around and help fight for equality.