As someone who is hella gay, this is huge news. It’s something to be celebrated, a historic day that I hope I’ll be telling my kids about one day, when I’m legally married to a woman and we share parenting rights over our kids equally, without having to worry about traveling to a different state and having our marriage not be upheld. LGBT+ citizens can breathe a sigh of relief, because this makes a huge difference for anyone wanting to get married.
Am I happy and excited? Yes. However, as much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, our fight is far from over. LGBT+ people have been suffering and fighting for their rights for years and years now, and while things have gotten a lot better, especially the last few decades, this doesn’t mean we’re done.
First of all, the more I hear people say the words ‘gay marriage,’ the more I want to hit someone. If I’m gay and I marry a gay woman, sure. Call it gay marriage. But what about the other letters in LGBT+? What about the lesbian women marrying bisexual women? What about the bisexual men marrying each other? What about pansexual people? There’s so much more to LGBT+ people than just the G.
Gay men have suffered and I would never undermine that, but by only recognizing the G in LGBT+, we are erasing the more marginalized identities in our community. Today’s white gay men, the ones who are younger and have grown up in a world where being a gay man is becoming more accepted than any other LGBT+ identities, are in a position of privilege within a marginalized group.
People also tend to forget that there is more to being an LGBT+ rights activist than marriage equality. Marriage equality is important. It’s a human right that we should’ve had ages ago, and honestly, it shouldn’t have taken this long. This means I can get married and not worry about my marriage not being valid in a different state, and that’s great.
But what about queer and transgender homeless youth? According to a report by the Williams Institute, approximately 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT+, but this is an issue that isn’t talked about as widely as it should be. Marriage equality is important, but isn’t queer youth having a roof over their head more crucial?
And what about violence against queer and transgender people? Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner (queens that they are) have started a lot of conversations about transgender rights, but that doesn’t stop the fact that transgender people (and particularly transgender women of color) are still suffering, still being victims of hate crimes. Aren’t their lives more important than marriage equality?
This is only the tip of the iceberg. Queer people are still discriminated against. In some states it’s still legal to get fired for being LGBT+. Transgender people still don’t have enough accessibility to transition and/or be legally recognized as the gender they are. Transgender and bisexual visibility (and even lesbian, at a smaller scale) is almost non-existent. LGBT+ people are still turning against each other instead of working together in solidarity, and people still keep calling us ‘the gays’ as if it were an umbrella term.
Don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t want you to stop celebrating – I don’t want you to not be excited. But I want you to know that while we did take a step forward – and hopefully this will inspire more changes in society – our work here isn’t done.