It’s been many years since the US Supreme Court acted like true purveyors of justice. When a majority of justices struck down the anti-gay Defence of Marriage Act and refused to overturn a California court decision (and thus paved the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage), it was certainly a big victory for the LGBT community.
But it really was a huge victory for everyone who believes that human rights should be universal rights — that is, enjoyed by all.
The US right wing is now divided not simply on same-sex marriage but is retreating on homophobia itself. Meanwhile, more and more countries are legalizing same-sex marriage. Yes, there are countries where vicious attacks on gays and lesbians continue. (Many of which in Africa have been influenced by US evangelical churches as well as the Catholic church.) And yes, an implicit (and sometimes explicit) homophobia continues to be an important part of how we raise boys to be men. So although it’s too soon to declare victory for the basic human right of every woman and man to love (or simply lust after) who they choose, clearly the tide has decisively turned.
This weekend is Pride Day in many countries. Here in Toronto where I live, a million people are expected to turn up at the annual parade. It’s a celebratory day, celebrating victories, celebrating human rights, and celebrating the human capacity to love and desire. But it’s also a celebration of the human ability to struggle and bring about change. In little over forty years (since the Stonewall riots in New York) long-standing fears and biases have been successfully swept away.
In an era of rising inequality, of well-funded right-wing extremism masquerading as mainstream conservatism, of ongoing attacks against women’s rights, and of looming environmental catastrophes, it’s easy to become depressed about the odds for our future. But the ongoing victories of LGBT communities — no, the victory of and for us all! — tells us in no uncertain terms that through unity, courage, tenacity and love, we truly have the ability to change the world.
Happy Pride Day to one and all!