“It is a consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up, who came out, talked to parents, parents who loved their children no matter what, folks who were willing to endure bullying and taunts, and stayed strong, and came to believe in themselves and who they were. And slowly made an entire country realize that love is love.”
This is a moving and truthful description, by President Obama, of the impetus behind the Supreme Court decision that makes same-sex marriage a Constitutional right in the U.S. As someone who has worked with people living and dying with HIV/AIDS over the past 30 years I would like to add an additional important factor that helped us arrive where we are today; the courageous lives of thousands of gay and bisexual men who fought both the HIV virus and the stigma that came with it.
Many of those “countless small acts of courage” were from the thousands of gay men who, when confronted with an epidemic that threatened their existence, decided that they would no longer remain silent, no longer hide who they were as human beings to their family members of origin, to their friends, to their colleagues. In addition, there were tens of thousands of gay men and lesbian women (because it was only these folks in the beginning of the epidemic) who also came out to their communities to stand by and with those infected.
We have a lot to celebrate in light of the Supreme Court decision on June 26th! Let’s not forget the sacrifice of so many that helped us get here. Let’s not say we are done, however, until complete human and civil rights for all members of the LBGT community are held sacred and assured.
Duane Wilkerson, Executive Director