Pride 2015: Love Wins

This is not an LGBT blog, in the same way that this is not an atheist blog, but you can’t always separate all parts of your life.  If you’re offended by LGBT material, I urge you to read on anyways: in fact, leave whatever feedback you like.  I welcome it as long as you think about it: please, no knee-jerk reactions. I love discourse but cannot stand arguments.

With that in mind, here’s something I haven’t written about on this blog yet: I’m bisexual.

More accurately, I consider myself pansexual and genderqueer, smack-dab in the middle of the Kinsey scale, but for people who aren’t familiar with the whole LGBT alphabet the word “bisexual” is a little less threatening. Even for the old-fashioned LG half of the initialism, “bisexual” brings up a whole wealth of opinions.  So friends, readers: it is all right if this blog makes you uncomfortable.  Please, ask me honest questions: I’m happy to answer them.

I acknowledge that this entire part of my life is often way outside of most people’s social spheres, and that is just fine. Really.  I’m not a very judgmental person.

On to the actual post.

Oh my god did you HEAR about SCOTUS????

My coming-out story…

When I was eighteen I fell in love with a girl.

Other than re-evaluating some of my life, it actually didn’t affect me that much.  I had a few nervous moments when I came out to my father and my mom’s parents, and I didn’t have much of an actual coming-out moment with my dad’s side of the family (sorry, guys, if you’re hearing about this for the first time! I love you, I just don’t see you often!).  My parents had to reframe their mental image of me a bit, but once they realized it didn’t change who I was it was a non-issue. I am sincerely and utterly lucky as hell.

Anyway, that’s not my coming-out story.  The girl and I broke up some years later and I started dating a man again.

That threw everyone for a loop.

My family whispered: Was it just a phase? Is she no longer a lesbian? What’s going on? My mom had to explain that my generation just isn’t as cut-and-dry as theirs is, that gender just isn’t a big deal to me.  I had a wonderful heart-to-heart with my grandmother about how it’s simply not that big a deal to me.  I had to tell my parents: I am still the same person. It’s okay.  You didn’t do anything wrong, you were totally supportive, nothing scared me into being straight again.

I made a bigger splash when I came out as dating a man than I did when I dated a woman.  This is the family I was raised in: wonderful and accepting and weird as hell.  Let’s compare it to the world at that time.

The long-ago year of 2008…

The LGBT rights movement of my generation didn’t really pick up steam until 2009.  Sure, a few states had allowed marriage rights, but it seemed to have happened quietly, under the cover of war and economic depression.

When I first realized my feelings for my first girlfriend, the political trend felt– to me– like it was going in the other direction: Prop 8 had passed (despite California originally deciding that same-sex marriage was legal), several other states had issued actual bans on gay marriage… and I wasn’t even really aware of the states where it was okay.   It wasn’t so much that it felt like an uphill battle.  It felt like the battle was happening somewhere else, and the loudest voices were full of hate.

LGBT culture wasn’t distant.  It just didn’t feel applicable.  The only voices I was familiar with were from another era: they didn’t have room for someone who wasn’t attracted only to their own gender.  I’d had friends who questioned their own sexuality, but bisexuality wasn’t on anyone’s radar.  And add in that we were still using “gay” as a derogatory term, add in that I myself teased guys for being effeminate (even if they weren’t– sorry, Leprechaun, you know who you are), add in that I was confused enough about boys without throwing girls in there…

The world was different.  It was the tail end of the 80s-90s-early-2Ks, but I wasn’t really aware of all the stigma.  It just simmered under the surface.

I didn’t understand it until 2009, when it boiled over.  Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine all legalized marriage at once.  It didn’t just hit my radar, it hit everyone’s.  I don’t think it had ever not been a hot-button issue, but suddenly it was on the nightly news.

It didn’t stop.

Love wins.

This year I had the honor of marching in the Chicago Pride Parade.  It was the most welcoming, warm, beautiful gathering of people I’ve ever had the pleasure to see.  It was diverse: I saw people in dresses and tutus and leather and full-body bird mascot costumes.  I saw flags denoting pansexuality, asexuality, and everything in between.  I saw extravagant dresses on masculine men and beautiful women in bow ties.  Everyone and anyone was welcome.

At the end of the parade was a group of people expressing their right to free speech, shouting hatred as loud as they could.  I respect people who have differing feelings than I on this issue: I will never respect people who shout hatred that loudly to people that friendly.  They were surrounded by signs espousing love and acceptance, and that was wonderful to see.

(I may or may not have taken a selfie with the protesters. I’ll put it at the end of the article here.)

I have two points to this article.

The first is this: I know a lot of people out there are overwhelmingly supportive.  You guys are awesome.  But I also know a lot of people don’t agree with the recent SCOTUS decision.  A lot of them are afraid for the future of America: they think people are going to descend into sin.

I have two things to say to them.  First, do not condemn what you don’t understand: read LGBT arguments for their case.  Read up on other interpretations of your own religious views on sex, read what other religions and perspectives think, and be honest with yourself as to what you’re opposed to.

Second, it’s okay if you disagree.

Honestly. I love to hear dissenting opinions.  I will never impede your free will to believe what you believe and feel what you feel.  Sure, if you want to try and change my opinion, I will try to change yours in turn.  That’s just fair. But all in all, it is all right to dissent.

But I grew up in this new world. I grew up with a family that is accepting and loving and doesn’t make a huge deal about this stuff, who put love above anything else.  We have different beliefs, and we fight, and we disagree, but above all else we respect each other as human beings.  That is the world that our country is becoming.

It’s not scary, guys.  It’s okay.  We haven’t fallen into Hell, at least not yet.

It’s actually a wonderful place to grow up.

(Here’s that selfie with the protesters. Sorry, people in the background, I’ll blur you out if I get a request.)

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