It’s not enough that Obama has finally expressed his support for same-sex marriage, but it’s still a very good thing, and it feels nice. It’s not enough, because honestly, the myriads of problems facing LGBTQ people, especially youth of color, are not going to be solved by the ability to marry. Some LGBTQ individuals are still trying to find their way out of their closets and into a world that doesn’t accept them and woefully misunderstands them. Marriage is the last thing on their minds. There are young LGBTQ youth of color who are in poverty, homeless, facing health disparities, and the list goes on. So no, marriage is not the only answer. But again, as a gay youth of color, I can’t help but sit back and smile. Maybe this world is getting a little closer to where it needs to be, wherever that may be.
But I do want to make one thing clear, being LGBTQ is not just a political issue. Believe it or not, there are complex individuals behind those letters. This world likes to talk about us as if the scope of our triumphs and proclivities lie within the ink of a ballot box. But no, please know that we think and feel, and cry and bleed, just like everyone else. And we are diverse and varying, and we are multitudes. The greatest problem I think America has with accepting LGBTQ people, is that they have gotten so lost in the images of us they’ve created, that they fail to see who we are as fellow human beings.
It can be a scary thing to be LGBTQ. When most people are growing up and becoming acquainted with their individuality, we are fighting within ourselves for the sake of ourselves. The world teaches us that our existence is anathema to God’s plan for the world and the natural order of society. We are taught to believe that we will be disappointments to someone. We have to stand idly by while friends and family ridicule us even when they do not know that they are doing so. It’s a simultaneously weird and conflicting thing, to be LGBTQ. We are told that our feelings are wrong, even when we don’t really know what these feelings are. We are told that they are wrong, and that we will be punished for having them.
And the great tragedy of living as LGBTQ is that few people rarely try to ask us how we feel. Instead, they talk about us. Who we should marry, whether or not our love is valid, whether or not we should raise children, which diseases we carry, and how we can be fixed. They judge us for feelings and intimacies of which they know nothing about. It’s a complex conundrum to be LGBTQ, and as long as our world is trapped within the haze of its misconceptions, it will continue to be a scary thing.
But nevertheless, being LGBTQ forces you to grasp within the deepest depths of your identity and find the strength to be yourself in spite of everything the world throws against you. It takes enormous courage to say “…I will be who I am and love who I want to love even when the world is against me…” And somewhere in the midst of this courage, you find that the world isn’t in fact against you, just a rather large—but conquerable—group of people who you just have to care about until they find their own means of accepting you.
So thank you Obama for a bit of affirmation. Symbolic of the fact that our country is moving forward. It’s not enough. But it feels good. And I appreciate the sentiment.