The closer we get

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com December 19 2005 1:00 AM ET

In this
“best of the year” issue there’s one
story that, for me, perfectly encapsulates where we
are at the start of 2006—and what’s
“best” about it. “Good
Neighbors” reports how Jim Stewart, a Texas man at
odds with his gay son, learned something about family values
from his new neighbors, a gay male couple with an
infant son. The lesson brought Jim and his son Jason
together without animosity for the first time in years.

“I began
visiting with the gay family and realized that they are just
like everybody else,” Jim, who lives in Austin, told
The Advocate. “And I started
thinking that discriminating against my own son was the
worst discrimination there is.”

So there you go.
Certain Texans’ preference for antigay discrimination
may have been a starting point for 2005—say, on
Inauguration Day in January—but humanity and
love will, given a chance, trump homophobia. Lies
about pedophilia and “lifestyle choices” and
attacking traditional marriage may poison
people’s minds, but at a neighborhood barbecue with
the queer neighbors pitching in, the truth will out.

After hanging
with the gays next door, Jim Stewart says, “It dawned
on me that being gay is not a choice. I didn’t
understand it’s in the DNA. I realized
prejudice is through fear or ignorance, and in my case, I
had both.”

If we are to have
hope for the new year, we have to believe that this
story is being repeated daily across the nation—not
just between dads and sons but between mothers and
daughters, schoolyard bullies and their targets,
preachers and their congregants, bosses and their workers,
athletes and their teammates, and so on and on. It
doesn’t take a reality TV show—which
brought that gay couple and their baby to Jim
Stewart’s cul-de-sac—for people to come
together, even when one side starts from a place of
“prejudice…fear or ignorance.”

Very rarely does
a person move from a place of acceptance and love to a
place of suspicion and hate. The vast majority of people who
shift their views are moving in the other direction,
toward our common humanity. From darkness into light.

Looking back at
our cover stories from 2005, you can see how this truth
plays out: within families in the “red
states,” among Mormons and high school
students, at colleges and day care, and in the growth of gay
and lesbian images and media outlets, from The L
Word
to Logo to the phenomenal Brokeback
Mountain.
As 2006 begins, marriage equality is
still the law in Massachusetts, Olivia Cruises continues to
help lesbian sports heroes out of the closet, and
science is getting ever closer to a “gay
gene.” Even a story about gay men’s recovery
from crystal meth addiction is in part a story about
truth and love winning out—in that case, love
of self, also known as “pride.” Shadows do
fall upon us now and again, but they cannot hold.
Every year we move a little further into the light.

Many battles loom
for 2006, both political and personal. Our “strategy
for victory” (to borrow a phrase) needs constant
revision, and we all have a lot of work to do to reach
full equality in our society and in our
families—more work than we really want to think
about. But every day brings more families like the
Stewarts back together. Every year moves us closer to
love.