I have come to the conclusion that despite how far we think we’ve come, the majority of this country still hates us.
I had wanted to believe that we as a country had progressed. I wasn’t about to bite into that post-racism pie, but I thought we were at a watershed moment where people would finally set aside their old-time religions and quaint prejudices.
When DOMA and then the redundant anti-gay amendments swept this country, I thought these would be fads, like mall concerts or leggings. When Iowa’s high court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, I thought we would witness a sea change. And when my hopes were dashed in California, I thought that America wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, ashamed at the giant blemish of hatred it had left on the West Coast, the mess it had made in the voting booth.
But no. I was wrong. There is no stopping the hate machine. No amount of marching or protesting or money funneling. This is most likely going to be a waiting game. A staring contest. Where we fixate eyes on those who don’t have the nerve, the guts, to look at us in the face, despite the fact that we are their neighbors, their co-workers, their sons and daughters. We are the dirt under their rug, the bathroom in the Brady Bunch household. In their minds, to acknowledge us is to acknowledge that there is something impure, something that will break that fragile vision of the Mayberry world they exist in. It will color their view of a white, straight America, transforming it into the calico collage that is reality.
I have straight friends that are naive enough to think that there is a place in this country where I can hold hands with my boyfriend in public without fear of harassment. These friends still believe the myth that urban oases such as San Francisco, Chicago and New York provide some shelter from the bigot storm. I will tell you this is false. I have been to all three cities in the past six months with my boyfriend. In each city, I have been harassed, stared down and made to feel uncomfortable for being who I am. It has been so bad in Chicago that my boyfriend and I have created a game where we guess how many blocks we can walk holding hands without being called faggot. We rarely guess low enough.
But oh yes! I forgot about Boystown. With all the chintzy plastic of Disneyland but void of the charm, Boystown is nothing but a symbol of our oppression, a reminder that the only safe place for us to live and love is a ghetto lined with rainbow columns, which dam us up so we won’t spill over into “their” territory.
So how will us gays win our equality? Are we going to keep fighting, trying in vain to convince people who are obviously unwavering in their narrow-minded beliefs that their religious leaders, their parents, their politicians and their community is wrong in denouncing a sexual orientation that is just as unwavering? Because how do you create that shift when every single institution that touches that person’s life is sending the same message, “Gays are evil, and to support them is evil by proxy.” No amount of megaphone chanting, political funding or hell raising is going to change that. Even when the laws one day tilt the scales back to a position of equality, this hatred and need to feel superior over a subset of people will persist.
Life is hard enough. Can you just let us live it?