I was born in 1966. Shortly thereafter, the LBGT movement in the U.S. was energized as never before and began to change the world.
In 1968, the Metropolitan Community Churches were born as a movement by and with a primary affirming outreach to same-gender loving people and their allies. Today, there are several Christian and Jewish denominations that affirm the sacred value of same-gender loving people, but in 1968 such an affirmation was rare.
In 1969 the Stonewall Riots occurred and the Gay and Lesbian community would never be silenced or completely hidden ever again.
In 1970 the Unitarian Universalist Association passed a gay rights resolution and the first Gay Pride parades were held in major US cities.
In 1972 the world’s first LBGT synagogue was founded, as was PFLAG.
In 1973 homosexuality stopped being considered a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association.
In 2000 Vermont became the first state in the U.S. to offer “civil unions”, a near-equivalent to marriage for same-gender loving people.
In 2003 Sodomy laws were struck down.
In 2004 Massachusetts became the first state to recognize same-sex marriages.
In 2011 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed.
In 2013 a key part of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” was defeated.
And in 2015 the U.S. became the 19th country to have nationwide marriage equality. Marriage is now an equal right rather than a heterosexual privilege.
In my life so far, gays have gone from being considered “criminal” and “sick” to being mainstream (in the U.S.), recognized as part of the normal diversity of life, and deserving of equal protection and opportunity (even if we have not yet fully achieved equal treatment in every area and function of society).
In addition to these hard won and well deserved gains for lesbian and gay folk, the falseness of gender binaries are being discussed openly today and we are learning that not only do we contribute to the world’s diversity, but our own community is more diverse than some ever imagined.
So much change in less than a half a century is staggering; it is little wonder that some people are frightened by the long and growing list of significant changes (a plethora of Right Wing blogs document the angst that many still have about our community). And while I have (some) compassion for those who find their impending loss of heteronormative privilege frightening, I dare not believe that we have achieved enough, that our work is done, that Queer youth no longer need positive role models, that adversaries of equality will accept the changes graciously, that more protections aren’t needed, or that LBGT people beyond our own borders don’t need allies and advocates. We have worked miracles in just a few decades, but we must not become complacent. Our achievements should remind us that we can (and must) collectively continue to change the world.
Originally written for the Florida Agenda for the bi-weekly column, "Dr. Durrell's Spiritual Prescriptions"