I am amazed by how much the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has changed just in the past few years. I came out in the early 90’s – during a time when then-President Ronald Regan wouldn’t even say the words “gay” “lesbian” or AIDS. Now, we have an African-American president who, in his first term, spoke at the national Human Rights Campaign dinner and pledged his support to help our community address policy concerns like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and The Defense of Marriage Act.
While many of us – myself included – wait impatiently for President Obama to deliver on those promises, the pace of social change that has occurred in my lifetime has been incredible. Relatively to similar social change movements, our community has actually accomplished a great deal in very little time.
Words like lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender simply weren’t heard in public as recently as 30 years ago. Cities across this country passed continued to pass laws against wearing gender-inappropriate clothing in public through the mid 1970’s. Key organizations like the Human Rights Campain (founded in 1980), GLAAD (founded in 1985) and NCLR (founded in 1977) all began within the last 30 years.
In the last three decades, our community has gone from being labeled as “the love that dare not speak its name,” to being at the center of many political and social conversations. While we clearly have much, much further to go before we achieve full equality, we can not discount the progress we’ve made in my lifetime alone.
From here, it’s up to us to learn from those who have so effectively created the change we see all around us. It’s our responsibility to both continue to champion their efforts, and make sure we manage to keep up with the pace they’ve set.
Photo Credit: rsambrook