Following Obama’s historic shift on DOMA earlier this week, signaling a profound opportunity on the horizon, the gay rights movement has entered into a new era. And while the future may appear bright, make no mistake: the road ahead will be a challenge. But I for one am proud and excited to be living in such important and changing times. The struggle is as emboldening as it is frustrating, but brighter days are undoubtedly ahead.
I have been particularly moved by the role new media has played in changing the hearts and minds of many. The tragic effects of bullying have been witnessed across the country in acts of senseless and heartbreaking violence. The Trevor Project and NOH8 campaigns have lovingly opened their arms in support of those struggling with sexuality and thoughts of suicide. Their YouTube campaigns have attracted public figures from President Obama to Cindy McCain, all spreading a common message of love and hope.
CJ was a talented and popular athlete when he became the victim of relentless bullying. Despite being brought to the school’s attention, no action was taken against those harassing CJ, ultimately forcing him to move schools. Not one to give up easily, CJ persisted and fought until those accountable were held responsible. His story is encouraging and offers a happy ending we don’t often hear about.
The stories of Tyler Clementi are tragic and make little sense. We hear it in politicians who speak of the “abnormality” and “perversion” of homosexuality and in the religious leaders who condemn love from the pulpit. It is in the very rhetoric that demonizes and fuels bigotry. The night is always darkest before the dawn, and the rise of social media has given the silent a voice and moment of clarity in the midst of noise and aimless debate. The stories of those who have lived to see a better day are a beacon of promise, and no amount of blind ignorance can extinguish that.
Be proud, be compassionate, stand strong, keep pushing on, and laugh often.