The Millennial Revolution: Gay Equality Is a Value

In spite of Pennsylvania’s laws

Josh Middleton, 34. Photo by Chris Sembrot

Josh Middleton, 34

It’s a frustrating thing, being young and gay in Philadelphia. Go to any Pride celebration and it’s obvious we live in a city that nurtures our right to be here and queer. But we also live in Pennsylvania. My partner and I moved here six years ago, and have watched as this remained the only Northeast state to maintain a same-sex marriage ban. I’d be lying if I said we haven’t considered moving to a place that recognizes our right to put a ring on it, but leaving also feels like turning our backs on a city that’s working hard to propel us onto the right side of history.

Chris Goy, a 26-year-old legislative aide to Councilman Jim Kenney, agrees. “It would be a shame if we rested on our laurels and took for granted the many successes and rights we’ve been able to gain,” he says. Goy moved to University City in January to pursue his master’s in public administration at Penn, and played a pivotal role in drafting the LGBT Equality Bill that passed Council with flying rainbow colors in April. In his short time here, he’s become such a believer in Philly’s support for the community that he and his partner have decided to stay when he graduates next spring.

Seeing the city’s support for the equality bill meant a lot to the New Mexico native, who, like so many of his generation, stayed in the closet throughout high school, afraid that revealing his true identity would scare off family and friends. He came out just before heading into his freshman year at Wesleyan, where he thrived as an out-and-proud member of his class. Philadelphia, he trusts, will not only keep fighting for all the rights we deserve, but continue to beckon young, intrepid queer folk for years to come. “You can go far in Philadelphia. You can make a name for yourself,” he says. “I think that’s really appealing to gay millennials. They’ve got talent, and they just need a place where people are receptive enough to give them a chance. Philadelphia is definitely that place.”

For someone like me, who isn’t exactly chomping at the bit to get married, living in a city that would give me more rights if it could is enough to keep me around. Well, that and the fact that it would really suck to move to New Jersey.

>>Click here for more thoughts on the millennial revolution