I hope that this snippet of a story feels dated. It was somewhere between the end of the ’90s and beginning of this millennium.
It’s not much of a story, either. I just remember being in high school and saying out loud that I “didn’t get” the whole “gay thing.” I didn’t go to a school that was outwardly homophobic. Teachers never pushed conservative views on sexuality onto us. Much like the rest of my adolescence, it presented no enshrined words or dominant opinions at all, leaving me to guess at what the silence meant.
For many, that silence was stifling. Sure, there were no official proclamations against being gay as a teen, but it was being gay as a teen at the turn of the millennium, with classmates who “didn’t get it,” jokes/slurs on TV and in the halls, and no official voice saying “You are fine. You are whole just as you are. You’re not a problem to be solved.”
This “not getting it” was because of the privilege that lurked behind the silence, of course. The only reason there was anything to be confused about was because no one unpacked the jokes and slurs (or the sermons) as forms of hate. A person loving another person should literally be the easiest thing in the world to understand, matching genders or not. There was nothing not to get and it was being made needlessly complicated by being painted as some scandalous secret.
The thing that cleared it up was living. Witnessing the lives of friends, meeting my first roommate. Living and learning that sexuality is not one size fits all or simple, that love civil rights and love are quite obviously for all. How was that even a question?
As of today the U.S. Constitution guarantees same-sex couples a right to marriage [!!!] How many legal headaches, how much emotional turmoil could have been avoided if our nation would have just done this sooner? It was still a 5-4 vote, after decades have passed, and people in power have had that much time to live, learn, witness stories, have stories of their own that make the obvious clear beyond any doubt.
There will always be people who hate, but now their attempts to obscure and over-complicate love will have a hell of a challenge in what is now the law. That’s huge. I’m excited for the 2015 version of this high school kid story – never having not understood that love comes in many forms, just baffled about why it’s a big deal to some people, and ready to do something to make progress go even further.