Here, at the beginning of the year, it is important to remember several things. First, those who suffered during the years we spent in the wilderness. No matter how many victories we experience during this year 2013, we are still going to be living among our LGBT brothers and sisters who spent most of their lives not living with victories, but living instead with one defeat after another. Our brothers and sisters lived through the long time between the Supreme Court decision Bowers v. Hardwick, 1986, which gave federal constitutional support for sodomy laws, and Lawrence v. Texas, 2003, which voided all sodomy laws, and lived with the effects of the Defense of Marriage Act, passed and signed in 1996, and lived with the effects of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (1993) until 2011, when the act was repealed. Each of these three laws affected the LGBT communities, but what isn’t said much is that the fact they were enacted put a stigma on the individual gay people, whether or not he or she chose to engage in any kind of sex—the sodomy laws stigmatized our thoughts—or wanted to join the armed forces, and so these laws were damaging to all of us.In a time of great change, it is critical that we remember what our past has been like, and that we remember those who suffered and were damaged by the stigma we bore.
Second, we are not out of the wilderness yet. Children are the most vulnerable of us. Forty percent of homeless youth are LGBT and forty-six percent of homeless youth are homeless because their parents rejected them and their sexuality. These data are from a study made practically yesterday—between October 2011 and March 2012. Abusive teaching of LGBT youth, rejection by their families and by city relief organizations, homeless, on the streets of large cities, too young and with no skills to sell, many of them turn to hustling. The suicides of LGBT youth, random acts of violence against LGBT people, and repeals of congressional acts and Supreme Court decisions in our favor aren’t going to change these things, at least for a number of years. All bigotry is not going to go away. After all, much of what has driven national politics in the last four years is racism directed at our President. Why should gay people think that a congressional act or a Supreme Court decision is going to make our lives perfect?
Third, we are being assimilated into the culture of marriage. This assimilation is dangerous. See here and here and here On the other hand, this week, there is this which is wonderful to read. It’s a study that shows something that many gay people have known: non-monogamous couples are as happy as other couples. We already know this, and during this time when we are being assimilated so quickly, it is good to be reminded of it. Let’s hang on to ourselves.