Op-ed: A Bigger, Better LGBT Community

By Anthony Armstrong

Originally published on Advocate.com April 03 2013 4:42 AM ET

Despite the historical significance, excitement, and worry placed on the recent Supreme Court hearings, something else much larger than anyone anticipated has happened. For the first time in my 30 conscious years, we as an LGBTQ community have come together to fight one issue together.

I knew that the news media and social media alike would pay plenty of attention to the hearings, but what I didn’t anticipate was feeling as much of a part of it all as I did.

The simple sign of support —the red equal sign—dominated my Facebook feed by Monday afternoon, to levels that I previously could not imagine. This simple equal sign obviously wouldn’t affect the outcome of the hearings nor did I even think many people would do it.

But to my surprise, I opened my Facebook last week and thought I had accidentally gone to Target’s website—there was red everywhere!  I haven’t seen my friends collectively get this worked up about much outside of happy hour, RuPaul’s Drag Race finale, or our gay softball league world series. (It’s a joke, we aren’t that shallow. OK, maybe sometimes.)

It wasn’t even the quantity of people showing their solidarity that was so impressive, it was the fact that people from all walks of life took part. Gay, straight, religious, Republican (it’s true!), young and old. I don’t think since the HIV/AIDS crisis in the '80s and early '90s, through organizations like Act Up, has there been such a unified effort for us all to be a part of.

Despite being with my partner for nine years, marriage was never much of my concern. In my mind, it was never going to be an option (especially in Florida where we live), and I always figured as long as both people in the relationship are committed, you will stay together no matter what.

But as we got older and hit certain milestones like graduating college, buying our first house together, and making wills and dealing with life insurance, the legal and tax disadvantages we were subject to started to change my mind on marriage equality. Then as our straight friends and family members started getting married, we were obligated to buy them gifts. I started to want to be married a bit more to be able to hit the jackpot of fun things from Crate and Barrel.

Finally, I think I have come to my senses and realized that the issues being heard today not only represent our right to be married, but also symbolizes our right to be treated as equals in all walks of life.

Through elections and court hearings we have witnessed many states and countries grant gays the right to marry, or some efforts have endured defeat. And though there is excitement when a new state allows gay marriage, the excitement only goes so far if you're not celebrating your own state's victory. The Supreme Court's hearings last week truly affect us all and instill a renewed sense of national community.

No matter what decisions the Supreme Court hands down, we all need to take a step back and realize what was accomplished. We have all come together. Across the country through local rallies, social media support, or educating others in our community, we fought this fight together. I can honestly say I feel proud and excited to be a gay man at this moment in history, and to be a part of a community that has worked for decades to get us here. I feel appreciative of those still fighting every day right now on behalf of us all, and I'm excited to see the future leaders of the LGBTQ community come forward to pick up where we leave off.

 

ANTHONY ARMSTRONG is the development manager and grant writer for the Center For Drug Free Living Inc., the largest AIDS service organization in central Florida. Armstrong is also a founding board member of the Zebra Coalition, one of the first full continuum of care housing programs for LGBT youth in the United States.