As LGBTQ Pride Month begins to wind down, there is still so much to consider moving forward. Our community and nation as a whole are still recovering from the traumatic mass shooting in Orlando that made Prides across America this year even more necessary. For the first time in years, I went to Pride and felt a sense of harmony. Philly Gay Pride was on the Sunday afternoon hours after news broke about the massacre at Pulse Nightclub. Going to Philly Gay Pride felt like a moral obligation more than a social one. I wanted to make the point that fear would not win — that no dark cloud could hover over our rainbow.
But as the vigils would soon follow and the community would unite with our allies, the empowerment felt lost. Being the cliché gay that I sometimes get mocked for being, I watched the Tony Awards that Sunday night and saw famed playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda give a passionate acceptance speech declaring “love is love.” Miranda, a straight ally, was touching and profound in normalizing LGBTQ love as rightfully deserving and equal. It wouldn’t take long before many would continue that messaging and turn it into a viral hashtag on social media and other merchandise.
However, as allies begin to define LGBTQ rights as simply being a matter in terms of love, I must personally ask for you all to do better. Let me be one of the first to tell you that love isn’t the only thing that is at stake in this matter. The narrative pertaining to LGBTQ rights as simply being based on a matter of whom one chooses to love is vapid. Although allies’ intent to profess that LGBTQ love is humane and just, the discrimination that affects our community is more complex than that. It’s time to think beyond marriage/romance and focus more on the institutional barriers that are attacking our ability to actually exist.
Right now in Pennsylvania there is no all-inclusive piece of legislation that protects LGBTQ individuals in the state from facing discrimination from housing, employment, and public accommodations. In other words, we could become North Carolina in the blink of an eye.
While most of the nation is still in awe over marriage equality, most of the LGBTQ community is suffering. Legalized same-sex marriage was a landmark battle won, but it didn’t end the war. For many within the community, such as myself, I’m at the age where I’m trying to sustain the means to one day be fully ready for marriage and a family. Right now, all of those possibilities are threatened based on laws that can be considered retribution for the passing of marriage equality. With all due respect, “love wins” didn’t stop transgender people from losing their right to use the bathroom aligned with their identity, nor has it forced the country to rally behind the Equality Act, which strives to legally include include sexual orientation/gender identity in the Civil Rights Act nationally.
Allies, I ask that now, more than ever, you consider the fight for LGBTQ rights as a civil rights cause more than as a declaration of love. It can be argued that marriage was an easier way to win you over because it’s a relatable issue — but now it’s time to evolve as the movement begins to.
If you are wondering what you can still do to help, start including the fight for LGBTQ protections as legitimate concerns in your overall consideration of political candidates. Use your heteronormative privilege to push them on these issues the same way you would for those more personal to you. With an upcoming presidential election in sight, the consequences are more fraught than ever.
Yes, love is love, but we must not keep putting the cart before the horse. All of the things required to make a marriage work — housing, employment, and public civility — are still not ensured for your LGBTQ friends and family. Perhaps we should adopt the term “fair is fair,” because that seems to address the bigger picture.