Valentines for Gays and Lesbians: Thanking Our Pioneers


Just like Americans owe a debt of gratitude to Every veteran of every war the US has been involved in, gays and lesbians enjoying newfound equality owe a similar expression to the pioneers who have made our modern experience even possible.

Like fortresses of evil being destroyed by forces of good, it seems every few days, another statute of inequality for LGBT Americans is being obliterated.

Our emerging equality and overall acceptance hit me profoundly last night as we dined on Valentines Day.

My partner and I–a mixed-race couple–dined in a neighborhood Italian restaurant surrounded by couples and groups of friends of different races and ages eating and drinking in homage to their relationships.

And among all these couples, over the course of a couple hours in a space that seated about 100, were at least 8-10 other same gender-loving couples…

…a couple of mixed-race couples, a lovely pair of African-American lesbians–one fem and one butch, 3-4 sweet, older male couples…

…doing exactly the same thing, holding hands, toasting one other, taking selfies…

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And you know what–it wasn’t any damn big deal. Granted, we are in an urban city, in a heavily gay area (meaning gays and straights live in neighborhoods in harmony with each other) but noticed last night and pretty much everywhere we go–

no one really cares.

Ok that’s not completely true.

A lot of people smile at us. (Us meaning gays in general.) Like they’re pulling for us, happy for us, glad to be sharing the space with us.

So…

Thank you, Harvey. And Cleve Jones. And Bayard Rustin, Martin Boyce, Frank Kameny, Edmund White, Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer. Peter Tatchell, Audre Lorde, Jerry Hoose and Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt. And every queer from Stonewall to San Francisco who never made a speech or held a picket sign, but lived their lives out in the open when it wasn’t at all popular…shopping and dining out together in public, facing the name-calling, the angry stares, and the “we’ll serve you from the back” treatment.

The fight isn’t won.
Hatred and bigotry still exist.
Mean people abound.

But the world is changing.
And someday, we will all of us be able to enjoy eating out together as just another couple in love.

To those who fought for an environment of tolerance and equality so that I–and millions like me–can enjoy a romantic dinner with a person of the same gender…

Thank you.

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