Does It Really Get Better? A Message For Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Youth.

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.

 

Marriage is About Love Not Gender: Speak Out For Marriage Equality!

As a married lesbian (legally married on 2/26/2008 in Toronto, Canada) living in Ohio, where my marriage is not legally recognized, where there is very limited possibility of being able to adopt as a homosexual couple, where we are only protected under hate crime laws in certain areas of the state, where it is still legal for restaurants to choose not to serve us if they so desire, I still have one right that I can practice freely – freedom of speech.

I sometimes wonder if people spoke up just a little bit more if more issues that affect the glbt community would surface and more rights would be established instead of quietly brushed under a piece of carpet in hopes that no one will notice what has been hidden. Of course many heterosexual individuals have no reason to care if those issues are swept away, it may make many of them more comfortable to act like the issues do not exist. For those heterosexuals out there who are allies and accepting and supporting, I personally would like to thank you for putting your level of comfort to the side in order to have your voices heard.

On the subject of comfort, for those heterosexual individuals out there, please take a moment to think about how it would make you feel if a person told you that you could not marry the person that you love and want to spend the rest of your life with. Some of you are thinking “hey marriage is just a piece of paper” to those of you thinking that: sure, marriage is represented by a paper marriage certificate along with love and a promise of commitment – are you married? If so, why are you married, if it is “just a piece of paper”? I am sure there are thoughts of “but it is different for me, I am a woman and I married a man or vice versa”. For those of you with those thoughts, does loving the opposite gender somehow grant you super powered love that can not be duplicated by another couple? Besides what goes on in the bedroom is there really a difference between heterosexual and homosexual couples? Maybe the thought of “protecting traditional marriage” came into your mind. Please ditch this so called “traditional” cop out. Why? Because it was once “traditional” for women to not be allowed to vote (women think about that next time the elections come around), it was once “traditional” to segregate and discriminate against others based on their race, interracial marriages were not allowed, if you go back even further in the time line, it was even “traditional” to enslave individuals against their will. Would you like to go back to those “traditional” ways? I highly doubt it. Of course there is always the cry that “homosexual marriages will ruin the sanctity of marriage”. So, heterosexuals can get married and divorced multiple times, get married one day and have it annulled the next day – what does that say about the “sanctity” of marriage? Here comes the last thought I am going to respond to “God says homosexuality is wrong, so you shouldn’t get married”. Since the United States of America has this great thing called Freedom of Religion, separation of church and state and also we have no country wide forced religion, why exactly are you using your “God” as an excuse to discriminate? Do you think others of different religions should not marry? If our country stands by freedom of religion, this should not even be a thought.

Lets take a minute to think about those people who will not speak out, either because it is controversial, their spouses do not agree or they are uncomfortable. Remember, speaking out can spark a change. It may start as a small spark and take a very long time to spin itself into fruition, but it is a start. It is a start that some are afraid to embark upon. Former first lady Laura Bush recently revealed her true opinion on gay marriage (read about it by clicking here), I can’t help but wonder what may have happened if she would have spoke out sooner. She is a republican conservative and is not against gay marriage (I could not help but rub my eyes as I read that article to make sure my eyesight was not failing me). Although I can not help but be disappointed that she did not speak out when she was in a more influential position.

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