The New 60: I Am Who I Am
BY Robert Levithan
June 23 2010 2:10 PM ET
I am a privileged man: I have not suffered for being completely out about my sexuality or my HIV status. Sometimes I forget how rare that makes me.
Something is missing from the picture: my full civil rights. I was not initially a big proponent of gay marriage. I was content with the idea of civil union status. My generation had been brainwashed that we were less than, so I was willing to accept less in order to keep the peace. My heart changed when my nephew, David Levithan, the Lambda award-winning author of Boy Meets Boy, wrote that he wouldn’t accept civil unions or a lesser status than marriage because he would not accept it if they said Jews could only have civil unions.
Right: I do not accept second-tier status for people of color, or women, so why would I accept it for myself. I want every right that comes with being an American citizen.
A dear friend read my last column online in Malawi, where she is working on a microeconomics project for local women, the very day I read that Malawi had arrested and convicted a gay male couple for “gross indecency” for celebrating their engagement. I asked my friend if she was aware of this. Her prompt reply: “It’s despicable.” Of course, any friend of mine would condemn discrimination against homosexuals. And I am relieved that after the international outcry, the president of Malawi pardoned the young men. And yet my heart is not easy. This is outrageous.
Where does my outrage live?
I am amazed that I can sleep at night. And I do. Compartmentalization
may be necessary to function in this world. However, we must stay
awake, we must take action, we must recognize that silence equals
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