There’s a lot to celebrate as communities across America recognize the anniversary of the Stonewall uprisings 35 years ago. A lot has happened since we hauled out the rainbow banners twelve months ago. We mark a year of no longer being felons anywhere in the USA when we sleep with someone of the same gender. We mark a month of legal marriage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and celebrate the acts of “marital disobedience” in cities and towns from new Paltz, New York, to Portland, Oregon and San Francisco.
There are more images of people like us in the media – so many that we take it for granted these days. And polls show steadily rising acceptance of queer people throughout most segments of society, especially among younger folks.
In many ways, it has been a great year to be queer. So take time to celebrate.
We could all use a little time to recognize how far we’ve come, because the months ahead aren’t going to be so easy. 2004 is an election year, and the progress GLBTQ people have made is going to be used by the radical right to try and scare voters into believing the sky is falling.
Don’t let the ugly rhetoric of politicians or church leaders scare you. They wouldn’t be raising a ruckus if we weren’t making real progress, and we are. Hateful talk from bishops and candidates can wear you down. Try not to pay too much attention. And remember that there are things you can do that will make you feel much better:
Come out. Yeah, you’ve heard it before, but it’s still important. The evidence is clearer than ever that attitudes change when people know someone who is gay.
Register and vote. “I’m not political” won’t cut it this year; we’re all political one way or another. If you don’t vote, it’s like letting members of the Christian Coalition vote twice, and that sucks.
Stay informed. Know what the issues are, beginning with those foul anti-gay amendments that threaten to pollute the state constitutions of Georgia and so many other states. The more you know about the issues and candidates, the stronger you’ll be when it’s time to….
Speak out. Let family and friends know how you feel about issues. If every gay, lesbian, bi or trans person spoke out to straight family and friends about how these issues affected their lives, we’d be a powerful force to be reckoned with. (And consider writing a check to support the Human Rights Campaign and the political campaigns of political leaders who support us, too.)
So take a long weekend to enjoy the hard-won fruits of our labors over the past year. You’ve earned it. Then roll up your sleeves and realize that we’ve all got work to do.