We have made some incredible strides as a nation toward spreading some equality to marginalized groups. Yet, work still remains. Though it is far easier to be gay in 2016 America than it was in years past, there are still undeniable challenges. Being gay in 2016 means waking up each morning knowing that much of the world, even within your own country, still thinks of you as disgusting, as less than, as second class, as irredeemable and damned. It means moving forward despite these challenges, and pushing forward in the face of a bigotry that has not yet
Being gay in 2016 means looking at a map and determining where it is and is not safe for you to travel, or for you to live. If you were married, and something were to happen to you during a trip to Tennessee, would your significant other be allowed to be at your side? If you moved to Nebraska, would you be accepted at your workplace or would you have to hide photos of your loved one for fear of being let go? If you traveled to South Carolina with your partner, would you be able to walk the beach together? If you walked the streets of Alabama, hand-in-hand, would you be accepted? There are many jobs in Texas, but is it safe for you there?
Being gay in 2016 means walking the streets of one of the most liberal cities in one of the most liberal states in one of the most liberal countries in all the world, your hand intertwined with your partner's, and still feeling the gazes on you, the judgment weighing down on you, and pretending that it isn't really there.
Being gay in 2016 means watching a tasteful kissing scene between two men or two women on television turn into a controversy, and being unable to ask why the steamiest romantic scenes in The Bachelor/Bachelorette are somehow more acceptable without being told you're "oversensitive."
Being gay in 2016 means listening to family and friends describe your partner as your "friend," or referring to him/her as your "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" only in hushed whispers as if the word were dirty and uncomfortable and nobody else must hear it.
Being gay in 2016 means insecurity even in marriage, knowing that the bond could at a moment's notice be made null and void should the political climate shift even slightly.
Being gay in 2016 means minding the people around you before you hug or plant a quick kiss goodbye. Who will it offend? Will it attract undue attention? What will the children think?
Being gay in 2016 means finding little comfort nor a place in the arms of religion, because much religion still dictates that you don't have a place at all.
Being gay in 2016 means laughing off assumptions made about your sexuality, and pretending that it doesn't upset you.
Being gay in 2016 means watching America elect one of the most actively homophobic vice-presidential candidates in history, and genuinely wondering whether or not you have a future place in your own country.
Being gay in 2016 means living within a paradox, secure in your insecurity and confident in your lack of confidence, proud of your nation but ashamed of it as well, hopeful and yet also fearful.
Being gay in 2016 means many things.
Being gay in 2016 means writing this article, and knowing that almost half the people who read it are rolling their eyes.
Being gay in 2016 is NOT wrong. It’s human nature, you love who you love no matter who they are. Please accept yourself and the wonderful person you are. Don’t look for approval from anyone else to love who you are meant to be with.