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Posted on 2015.06.28 at 18:26
A friend on FB was looking at all the happy rainbows and lamenting that the culture and laws of her own country are still so incredibly homophobic. This is what I told her. (The "posts just like this one" at the end refers to her OP about thinking her country should be more accepting, and wishing it were so.)

Here's the thing.

In the early 80s, rampant homophobia was so much the norm that I would not let my father kiss me on the cheek because I'd internalized how terrible it was for a man to kiss another male.

In the mid-80s, mainstream broadcast news was pretty sure that if a woman turned up HIV positive, it must have been because her husband had been hanging around gay bars. Anchors noted in passing that there were respected clergy who were convinced that AIDS was a punishment from God for all the dirty icky sinful things gay people did. And everyone knew that a stable gay relationship was one where you stayed with the same man for the whole night.

In the 90s, a major question in the news and in Congress was what to do about the discovery that gay men wanted to serve in the armed forces. On the one hand, there were those who didn't want to exclude anyone willing to fight, but there were many who felt it would be inappropriate and hurt morale and destroy unit cohesion. Eventually, over many objections, we got the compromise of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Which seemed pretty fair at the time. Just stay in the closet and no one needs to worry. Problem solved!

In 2008, on the same night Obama was elected, thanks to a massive ad campaign financed by the Mormon church, marriage equality (still a fairly new idea that only the most Liberal states were even trying) was repealed by popular vote in California.

And now, here we are. DADT is gone, and we have nationwide marriage equality.

But DADT was a hard fight. And it's only in the last couple of years that marriage equality gained a tenuous majority of popular support. It was passed by various state legislatures, but never won on an open ballot. It had to be imposed by the courts. And still there are many deeply opposed.

We've got a long way to go. But look at how far we've come. In one generation.

And I think a fair amount of that came from the Internet, which gave people a place to find support, make connections, build a movement... And expose the populace to a new narrative, new realities. To openly gay friends.

Change is possible. And it starts with posts just like this one.

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