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Martin Berusch

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Our Collective Evolution

Posted: 05/10/2012 12:47 pm

What is it about same-gender marriage that scares heterosexual people to the point of protesting and voting against marriage equality, even when the scale is tipping in favor of such equality? Case in point: North Carolina's latest anti-gay marriage measure, an eerily familiar adagio reminiscent of California's now-defunct Prop 8 measure.

Rack my brain as I may, I can come up with no plausible or concrete answers. I come close, though. President Obama yesterday came pretty close to it, too, if he didn't hit the proverbial nail on the head: It's a process and a personal evolution, I believe he said. I tend to agree. Just a few short decades ago a bunch of transvestites got their asses kicked during a now-historical raid in the 1969, but some brave souls came out swinging right back, in what we all now know as the Stonewall Riots.

As a kid in the late 1970s, not yet knowing what my own sexual orientation was, I believe it was on the cover of an issue of TIME magazine in the front seat of my dad's Buick Electra that I first saw two young men openly holding hands on a college campus. What I glean from this memory is that it indicated a gradual normalization of such public displays of affection. There seemed to be something inherently right about this image: two people openly and shamelessly demonstrating their love for one another. Something immediately (albeit secretly) stirred in 13- or 14-year-old me as I grappled with understanding what this image represented. Perhaps it was the kaleidoscopic knowledge coming into focus that not only might I be "one of them" but things were indeed changing, or rather "evolving." No matter. The point was that it seemed in my young mind that the world was finally beginning to open up to the idea of greater tolerance (or, better yet, acceptance and inclusion) of people of different persuasions.

Decades later, after much pain and mental angst, as much for me personally as for the rest of us who understand ourselves to be gay, it's become clear that a wave of change was and is underway. There is, in fact, an evolution that is and has been taking place all along in the United States of America, and that evolutionary change is called equal rights for all. I've come to understand, too, that all this has been the work of those who held onto faith -- a faith peppered with a heck of a lot of patience when it comes to gaining this inalienable right. But as time is unequivocally telling us we are getting there, I am one of countless individuals whose well springs with optimism. I remain steadfast and unwavering, convinced that we are on the cusp of true change: equality, tolerance, acceptance, inclusion, and ultimately the cohesive celebration of being one happy people who celebrate our inalienable rights to live as a truly free people under God.

So I guess this piece is just a tip of my hat not only to President Obama, who has finally set the tone for inclusiveness and equality in our country, but even more to those in drag, and to those who started it all and worked behind the scenes, and to those who continue the struggle to do away with such inequities. This is a big "thank you" to those who said "enough" to the raids and to the abuses. My sincerest respect goes out to the bloodied and battered, and to the memories of those who gave up their lives (innocently and unwittingly, mostly, at least one of them left to die, tied to a stake post in the middle of nowhere), and also to those scourged by the "gay plague," as it once was known.

As our memories increasingly fail us, and as we move forward into a future of greater hope for true equality, I take time to pay tribute to all of us living, and to the dead who weathered or have been weathering this storm of "evolution." I still remain hopeful that the rest of the world, including those in the hallowed halls of religion, will catch up with us some day -- even if it takes them millennia to evolve. It's OK, your Eminences. We have faith in you and pray for you to come to your senses, as well. We are plenty patient.

 

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