June is Gay Pride Month, and it is a time for us all to recognize the important strides that the gay community has made in this country. Their path to acceptance has led to an American landscape that is as diverse as it has ever been, and more inviting to different opinions and cultures.
Regardless of a person’s race, nationality, or sexual preference, the road to acceptance is often rocky, but usually ends with people from that group in the public eye for reasons other than what once made them different to the general public.
A perfect example of this can be seen as African-Americans fought for civil rights in America. Their first big victory was the abolition of slavery in 1865. One hundred years later, they were granted the right to vote. Currently, we have an African-American president who won not because of his race, but because enough Americans thought he was the best candidate to run the country.
It is because of the tireless dedication of activists who demand equality that gays and other groups enjoy freedoms that were once seen as unobtainable. It is the efforts of those not afraid to be the voice for their cause who often make the biggest impact.
In the 1970s, Harvey Milk, who was openly homosexual, tried three times to become a politician in San Francisco, a city which has a rich history of being progressive and open-minded, especially towards gays. However, he was determined to win, and eventually was elected on his fourth attempt, making him the first openly gay politician in U.S. history. Milk’s dedication led to creating a safe society for everyone, not just gays, to live life on their own terms.
This is most recently seen in the pages of comic books, of all places. For example, “The Green Lantern,” which also became a feature film last summer, comes out of the closet in the current issue. Additional comic book heroes who have come out as gay include Northstar, who will marry his longtime boyfriend in an upcoming issue; Kate Kane, who is from the “Batman” comic book series; and even a character from the “Archie” books comes out as gay in high school.
So as we celebrate Gay Pride Month, realize that there is more at stake than simply the perseverance of one group. Nearly every race and religion has experienced the painful sting of discrimination at some point. It is because so many have been dedicated for so long that people from every background hold jobs in nearly every field, and with neither fear nor prejudice as an issue.
Most cities will likely have a Gay Pride Parade, with floats and supporters of the Gay Rights movement (some gay, some not) celebrating society’s progress in allowing its citizens to live more openly. However, on a bigger scale, they’re also honoring the pain, suffering, and sacrifice of those in the past whose efforts allow them to live free.