As this year’s Pride parade season comes to a close, we have much to celebrate.
The biggest cause for celebration may be the Windsor decision handed down by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2013.
Because of that decision, judges across the nation have ruled that states must recognize same-sex marriages. June 1 marked the day that same-sex marriages could begin in Illinois. And in Maryland, where a petition to put it to a referendum failed, Gov. Martin O’Malley just signed a bill banning discrimination against the transgender community.
But we don’t have to look far to see the signs and symptoms of hatred.
In some countries we can be tried, jailed and stoned to death for being gay.
Here in America, the Westboro Baptist parishioners continue to picket American soldiers’ funerals because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
The Florida Attorney General continues to proclaim that gay marriage “imposes significant public harm.”
In the South, according to a recent survey commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign, nearly 65 percent of LGBT individuals have suffered verbal abuse, 20 percent have experienced physical violence and 25 percent reported discrimination in employment or public accommodation.
Recently, the Texas GOP endorsed a widely condemned “reparative therapy” to cure gays—a therapy opposed by the American Psychological Association and banned outright in many states.
So if you’re wondering why gay people continue to hold events, hold hands and even kiss in public, it’s because we still need to remind ourselves and others of what love looks like and feels like to us. So that it begins to resonate.
Just as we are given a healthy body, the Constitution gives us a body of rights. But if we don’t exercise them, if we don’t flex our muscles, we atrophy as persons and as a nation.
For all who have held my hand and laughed and cried with me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. For those who have just arrived—or are taking a closer look because you just found out someone you love or respect is gay—please join us and extend a hand as we march forward to full freedom.
One day, those who make the rules will sit back, shake their heads and say, “What was the big deal?” Younger folks are already doing that.
I’m grateful for the opportunities I have that I didn’t always have. Some I fought for and won. Some others fought for and I benefited from. None of them came easy. But this journey has made me who I am today. Until I’m gone, I will continue to do my part, not just as a gay male, but as an American citizen.
Happy Pride, everyone!
Michael P. Carney is a detective in the Springfield Police Department.