She glanced at the mirror and she still saw the manly features that once pertained to her. The defined jawline, the strongly outlined muscles and what used to be a beard was now covered with makeup. She felt eyes everywhere; eyes on every wall, every door and every living thing; eyes of people judging her. But how could she be a her? She felt no need to justify but, to be justified; she felt the need for someone to tell her that it was okay to walk out the door and not be ashamed of who she really was.
Now it was his turn. He sat there nervously, anxiously so to say. Fingers interlaced, foot constantly shaking and that one drop of sweat slowly making way down his forehead. Conflicted with what words to say, how to say it, or even worse, their possible reaction. “I’m gay”- the simplest yet the most complicated words that would ever barge out of his mouth. It was his time for it though, and after 17 years he was finally ready. It was now or never. He knew he was not safe; he never would be.
Those that are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) are all victims of a judging society that makes them feel ashamed for their sexual identity. Several are misgendered and have to deal with coming out more than once in order to correct people who wrongly interpret their sexuality. The LGBTQ community will always face the battle of having straight people assume their gender, pronouns and sexual orientation.
“It’s important to fight the homophobia you don’t even know you have, as well as the homophobia in others… I know it’s cliché but there’s a reason for that: it gets better,” said Carolina Ourivio, Media Culture and Communication student at New York University and member of the most advanced college LGBTQ centers in the world. “I’ve heard many, many coming out stories over these years, and I’ve had the opportunity to watch many others unfold, and some were very terrible [experiences]. But I don’t know anyone who regrets it, no matter what. So just take your time, don’t be too worried about labels, do your own thing and it’ll all work out in the end.”
It was finally after 43 years of controversial court cases, on June 26, 2015, that the United States legalized same sex marriage throughout its 50 states and ranked as the 21st country to legalize gay marriage nationwide. With a five to four ruling by the judges, this new decision made by the United States definitively increase the communities’ visibility and respect. Even though this opens opportunities for the LGBTQ community to access health care and tax breaks, some states still contain legislative issues that restrict the LGBTQ community from fully using the resources they were given.
“I think it’s definitely important for the government to stay active in making legislation to protect the LGBTQ community,” said Kirstin Jackson who is majoring in dramatic writing at New York University. “I think that a lot of the next steps are going to have to come from the communities and their allies… it will be incredibly important for people to continue raising awareness but also start concentrating their efforts on things like creating housing opportunities for the homeless LGBTQ youth and job opportunities for people who’ve lost their jobs because of their orientation or identity.”
A number of 61 percent of all Americans supported the decision made by the Supreme Court. This was a dramatic increase since October 10, 1972 in the U.S Baker v. Nelson case. Richard Baker and James Michael McConnell had been denied a marriage license by a county district court in Minnesota- where the favoring population was close to minimal.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” wrote Anthony Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice, who had one of the most substantial impacts on legalizing same-sex marriage on June 26, 2015. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were.”
A record high of six in 10 Americans now support gay marriage, reported by a Washington Post ABC News Poll in 2015. Furthermore, the support community under the age of 30 has increased from 57 to 78 percent since 2005, and the elder population with age above 65 has increased to 46 percent.
“Any step forward, be it small or huge, is a step toward inclusion,” said Ourivio. “[However], as important as it is for everyone to have the same rights, it’s even more important that we realize that gay marriage is not the solution to all the discrimination regarding the LGBTQ community. We’re not all just sitting around wishing we could be straight so that we can find our princes and have a big white wedding. Some of us want a larger comprehension of the variations of gender; some of us want to be transgender without being afraid to go out in public; some of us live in parts of the country where gay people are still hurt just for being gay, both physically and emotionally. I think it’s a great step towards equality [but] the legalization of same sex is only one battle in a much bigger war.”