Growing up, I spent a lot of time and energy denying that I was gay, suppressing any aspects of myself that I felt were feminine and eschewing anything that seemed like a stereotypical interest of gay men — musicals, drag, having a fashion sense. This internalized homophobia was so ingrained that I still feel its effects in my eighth year “out of the closet”. It was a long time before I could truly let myself breathe. That’s something I’ve been dedicating some thought to this Pride Month.
I’m thinking about it a lot because this June isn’t just Pride Month for me. I get married on Sunday, to the most amazing man in the entire world. I couldn’t imagine being luckier — Matthew has been my confidant, my collaborator, and my partner, which is everything I’ve ever wanted in a spouse. Just a few short years ago, it would have been illegal for us to marry. In many parts of the country, it’s only during my lifetime, the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling, that having gay sex has been legalized. Of course, being gay is about far more than sex, just like being straight is about far more than sex. Nonetheless, it is not lost upon me how far we have come just in the (nearly) quarter of a century I have spent going around the sun thus far.
We’ve also still got a long way to go. LGBT+ youth homelessness, the mortality rate of trans women, intracommunity racism, a rise in hate crimes since the election of Donald Trump, these are all problems which lie ahead. But for just a minute, it’s nice to remember to breathe, to remember how far we’ve come, both as a nation and as individuals. Growing up, the thoughts that marriage equality was decades away and that I might never meet someone, never settle down, never wed: these were parallel thoughts. And look at us all now. Happy Pride.
Cover photo by Ylanite Koppens / Pexels