I remember it was 50 years ago today that June Pride month in 2014 began. I use the word remember loosely. The President had just declared it as national Pride month as he did every month. We take it for granted now, but back then it was still a fairly new thing. The same President who spoke of the road to equality at an inauguration ceremony as running "from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall."
Maybe moments like these come every half century. In my days as a man just entering my 30s, I would often look back to the 1960s for inspiration in much the same way we look back at the 2010s now. So much has changed since then. It's what inspired me to write this blog, a lost form of communication, which I'm bringing back as much out of nostalgia as anything else. Here are a few highlights from that decade of equality.
- 2010 – the first time married gay couples were counted in the census
- 2011 – marked the end of DADT
- 2012 – saw the first sitting President to support marriage equality, was the first time marriage equality became a winning issue at the ballot box, and saw the first openly gay US Senator elected
- 2013 – the Supreme Court case that marked the beginning of the end to DOMA
- 2014 – challenges to marriage discrimination laws were happening in every state by the end of this year, the ban on gay scouts was lifted
- 2015 - the year an ENDA executive order was issued
- 2016 - the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land across the states
- 2017 - the transgender military service ban finally fell
- 2018 - the ban on gay scouts leaders was lifted, the ban on gay blood donors was lifted
- 2019 - the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that in many ways launched the modern LGBT equal rights movement
It was the decade in which North Carolina became the first state in the south to send an openly gay candidate to Congress to boot. There were so many other victories and losses, but that is a time that will always have a special place in my heart.
Though the policy gains are what it is remembered, for me it was the change in culture. Back then, before that time, you could take a beating or worse for being gay. Coming out was a moment with as much fear then as it is of celebration today. You had to watch where you did something as simple as holding hands.
Here we are in the 60s again, the 2060s. Given the primary we just went through, I thought all of this was worth remembering to remind us what is possible. And to look ahead and imagine what is possible, because that is always the first step in getting there.