Social progress on LGBTQ+ issues over the last 15 years has been remarkable. I wonder if this rate of social progress is actually unprecedented in human history - I would bet on “yes”.
Every single adult in my life grew up in a different era. They live with the memories not from how things are today, but how things were for them growing up. It’s actually increasingly easy to ignore the plight of gay people in particular, especially if you live in a city and are surrounded by gay-tolerant people. Even the Republicans in New York City are usually pretty gay-friendly! But gay people, especially gay men, have often been through some extremely real shit.
I had an incredibly thoughtful upbringing from my parents, and despite that, I said and thought some things as a teenager that absolutely haunt me today. I knew better than to say anything hurtful in front of a gay person, but as I’ve seen friends come out over the last few years, I realize to my horror some things we said to each other as “jokes” (ugh) must have been eating at them in a way I could have never understood. I knew enough to know that being gay was fine for other people, but I was still terrified of what being gay would mean for me. In other words, it was still an insult, still a weapon, to intimate someone may be gay.
I distinctly remember sitting in my bed in college one day thinking about whether I may in fact not be straight and physically shaking myself to try to stop the train of thought. I was literally studying minority (women/afam/gay) history and rights in school and was still so terrified of being queer that I had a physical reaction to the thought. Coming to peace with this was easier for me than most and I can’t imagine what coming to grips with this must be for others.
I’m so proud of the gay or otherwise queer people in my life. I’m so sorry not to have understood sooner how anti-gay culture had permeated my own brain, even while I believed myself to be entirely tolerant and loving of gay people. I remember what you went through because I was there, I was part of it, and I won’t forget it as progress hopefully continues for the rest of my life.