As you've probably heard, this was a good week for the LGBTQ community. DOMA and Prop 8 were repealed on Wednesday and NYC Pride is currently underway (or has just finished, depending on when you're reading this). All of the pomp and circumstance makes me wonder, though: What happens next? Is all of this unsustainable attention really what the gay community needs?
Don't get me wrong. I love a party as much as the next person, and if anything is worth celebrating, it's this. I'm ecstatic that American laws are finally catching up with the cultural milieu. Marriage in this country gives you the right to certain tax and health care benefits, immigration statuses, and adoption preferences -- not to mention the fact that it's come to represent having a successful monogamous pair bond. I'm just scared of what happens when our crippling Attention Deficit Disorder kicks in. Will we be prepared to support our LGBTQ brothers and sisters without a spotlight or parade?
Take the company I work for. On Friday, AOL brought in a drag queen to perform karaoke for employees to kick off Pride weekend. Everyone loved the show -- is it possible for morale to be low while there are drag queens around? -- but I couldn't get a nagging thought out of my head: is this what Pride looks like? When did queerness become a spectacle? I thought we were supposed to treat gay people like everybody else, not dress them in drag and ask them to host parties for our viewing pleasure.
The LGBTQ community will still deserve equality after all the glitter is cleaned up. And unfortunately, in many states that equality has not been attained. Until allies learn to practice a new, quieter kind of Pride -- the kind where we show our support with our votes, not with our rainbow go-go boots -- we can't pretend that same-sex couples have been fully integrated into America.
Integration means incorporating gayness so completely into our heuristic of "what's normal" that we don't think about it anymore. Imagine how absurd it would be if every time you saw a person of a different race, you were compelled to assure them how much you supported their right to be that race. The example is extreme, but it's not a bad comparison -- the same Civil Rights Movement that peaked in the 1960s focused on both racial equality and the LGBTQ community. We strive to make race banal to the point of it being boring, so why not gayness? Celebration is fine, but sensationalization isn't.
I'm afraid that this celebratory weekend will give us a false sense of accomplishment. The truth is that our work isn't done yet, especially while conservative communities are still shaming gay teens into committing suicide and only 17 states prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. But if we take the momentum that the spotlight has given us and we store it as fuel for the bleak stretches of our journey, then we'll succeed at turning gayness into exactly what it should be: a non-issue.