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July 3, 2014

out & about // being out & about

Photo used with permission by Heather Murphy Photography.

In the wake of the recent decisions that could be made by the Supreme Court on the issue of gay marriage, I thought I'd take a moment to write about how recent political changes have effected my life.

If you haven't figured it out already from my frequent references to my lovely photographer & girlfriend - I'm gay. I'm also lucky. Not only to have found someone to love & share my life with, but to be alive in a time where I have the opportunity to get married to that person.

The state I live in - Florida - does not currently permit gay marriage. A ban on gay adoption hasn't even been ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court. We're a little behind the times here, if you didn't know. In spite of all this, I still feel safe in the place & times I live in. Thirty years ago I would have been scared for my life being an out lesbian, but today I feel more-or-less comfortable holding hands with my girlfriend in public.

That being said, there's still a lot of work to be done by the LGBTQ (LGBTQQIAAP?) community & supporters. We have made gigantic strides in the past decade, but we're not done yet. Regardless of how the law reads, individual prejudices still exist. While I feel little fear walking hand-in-hand with my girlfriend, I am still effected by passive homophobia. Most of the fear I encounter is backed not by hatred, but by ignorance. When met with this type of homophobia, my first instinct is to get angry. I want to lash out, & yell "This is 2014! Get with the program! We're over this already!" Instead I have to step back & remind myself of the place this homophobia is coming from. Those I encounter may not know they're being offensive, or they may not understand my lifestyle. They may have been raised with a certain belief imprinted on them every day, & then I enter, bringing allegories of sinful behaviors to life.

Anger has its place in this fight for equality. I think that we in this community have a right to be angry - about our current state of inequality & about the hardships we has been through in the past. We are justifiably angered. But anger has its place, & the type of homophobia that I regularly encounter in my day-to-day life cannot be combated with anger. If there is an individual in my life that carries an anti-gay mindset with them, my anger will not help them change their mind. My anger will not help them accept me. They will only see me as a reaffirmation of their current thought-proccess. So instead of lashing out when someone asks me which of us is the man in the relationship, or tells me that I can change my preference, I choose to remain calm. I choose to positively educate, not to react with fury. I do this hoping to lead by example. I do this to gradually paint a more positive picture of what it means to be a lesbian, illustrating my normalcy, & ultimately, my right to equal existence.

There are many ways to fight a battle. The LGBTQ community has fighters of all manner & method. There are those who do get angry, rightly so. I am not currently able to fight where the confrontational battles are waging. As such I remain in the greater community, using my presence to power people to see change. I don't have proof that kindness is the most effective way to combat homophobia in the greater community, but I've seen how dramatic reactions can destroy lines of communication. I choose not to lash out & withdraw when met with homophobia, but instead to remain & keep communications going. I am hopeful that my interactions create change.

I know we will have our more out-spoken LGBTQ community members urging along the decision in the Supreme Court. I am thankful everyday to be a part of this change, to be a part of these great moments in history. I know that thanks to our fighters, both the loud & the quiet, there will be a day in my future where my right to marry is recognized in all fifty states. In the meantime I am hopeful that my presence, openness, & patience will create change in my own community.

xoxo,
-m.e.


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