Michael Aaron

Celebrating a new year, new time

Looking back at the past year and, indeed, over my past mmfmff years, I think few could argue that we, the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and ally community, are heading in the right direction. And, who knows … we may be coming to the end of the “war.”

What if the United States Supreme Court decides that gay and lesbian marriage is now the law of the land? In a few months, we could earn a large chunk of our rights and, while there are still battles (employment and housing discrimination, bias-based crimes, social acceptance, etc.), our war’s end.

Others who are also around mmfmff years of age will remember a day when we thought this wouldn’t be possible in our lifetime. We remember when men sitting at bars at two in the afternoon would berate us for “rocking the boat” by creating gay organizations and celebrations. We remember when Democrats eagerly voted for laws against us. When our pride festivals would receive visits from skinhead youth in Nazi uniforms. When nearly everyone stayed in the closet at work and with their families. When being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender was a shameful thing.

As people across the country and in this state began standing up to be counted, a slow progress began to happen. While many gay people warned us to slow down, to work more behind the scenes and accept politicians who would at least not vote against us, though not for us either, some of us drew a line in the sand. We would accept and work for only those who accepted us as full-fledged human beings with rights and dignity. Yes, that meant shutting down a political convention, throwing it into chaos. But when we ousted at convention two incumbents with bad voting records on gay issues and were splashed on the evening news, those leading the Democratic party knew they had to meet us on our terms.

Today we have one of the most powerful political organizations in the state. We have two active and thriving community centers and we have ally organizations forming and taking part in the conversation. We have a growing number of cities and counties with nondiscrimination ordinances and have over the past decade many openly gay politicians in many levels of government.

We have a president who came out for gay marriage before the election. The fact that some people found the timing to be politically motivated shows how much progress has been made. When in history was it ever politically expedient to come out in favor of gay marriage?

I know there will be a lot of work to do if and when we achieve full marriage equality. I also know that the days of pushing uphill appear to be coming to an end. I believe that, if the Court finds DOMA and Prop 8 unconstitutional, our work will change dramatically.

So tonight I am celebrating not only the end of the year, but the end of the hardest work and the beginning of a new year and a new time of hope.

Michael Aaron

Michael Aaron is the editor and publisher of QSaltLake. He has been active in Utah's gay and lesbian community since the early 80s and published two publications then and in the 90s.

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