Why Gay Marriage Matters

Why Gay Marriage Matters

I know this post falls under the Actor’s Notes blog so I’ll tie it back later…

The U.S. Supreme Court just passed a milestone decision to allow gay couples the right to marry. This is the mother of all victories for any LGBT person and supporter in the U.S. Not too long ago, I remember the scandal caused by gay people simply joining the U.S. army and being out – our government told us, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. I don’t know about you, but I’ll tell you what it’s like to grow up gay in my household. It meant giving up asking for equal treatment or permission, and always looking in from the outside. It meant your relatives who were straight got to have their dating partners welcomed with open arms at family gatherings, and their courtships privileged by the simple act of acknowledgement from the people they loved most. This fact, to most heterosexuals, is so taken for granted that they would not even think of the ill effects caused by this type of ostracization. Here are some statistics:

– “If the family of the LGBT youth does not accept them, they are 8 times more likely to commit suicide than other teens.”

– “LGBT youth rejected by their families are three times more likely to have substance abuse problems. 50% experience a negative environment at home if they tell their parents about their sexual orientation, with 26% forced out of their homes. Up to 50% of the youth that are on the streets living without a home are LGBT youth, who must live on the streets because of their sexual orientation or gender identification.” (http://www.pflagnyc.org/safeschools/statistics)

– “LGBT youth are twice as likely to report physical assaults, attacked with kicks, or someone shoving them at school.” (Human Rights Campaign / http://nobullying.com/lgbt-bullying-statistics/)

What this systematic intolerance (both at home and in the outside world from a young age) does for an individual’s self-esteem and self-image is reflected in the horror of the realities described above. It also reinforces the belief that even when things are unjust – whether at school, on the streets, or in the workforce, there are not going to be any allies and there is no point in standing up for oneself. After all, if one’s own family does not accept them, how can anybody else?

These are the types of struggles that lessen for LGBT individuals when our government takes a stand for equal rights and equal treatment of all its citizens. My heartfelt experience as an LGBT person stepped into a new dignity with my right to marry the woman I love legally. Along with that right, came a newfound deliverance from the quiet suffering I’ve endured individually and collectively with my entire community.

As for acting – the highest number of happily out queerfolk were always in my drama class. Even when I was afraid to say yes to the high school prom date invitation from one of the older, talented actresses in my class, I still felt safest and most comfortably at home during that hour of high school.

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