Actually, it not only gets better, but it is better.
Some days, I want to be 20 again. I want to be strong and proud and out, the way I wasn't then but I am now. I want to be 20 and queer and have the guts to stand up to the homophobes and the critics and kiss the girlfriend that I didn't have back then in public the way I was able to kiss the boyfriend I did have (and wasn't always sure I wanted).
I envy Adam Lambert that. I'm glad he's out there kissing boys and reminding people that we get to do it in public too, reminding those who are scared that it is possible to kiss a boy (or a girl) in front of other people, queer or not, and survive the experience, the harassment, the bullying.
If we all keep on waiting for it to be safe to kiss our boyfriends and girlfriends in public, then it will never ever happen. Because the homophobes aren't going to turn around and say, "You know, i was wrong; it's okay to do that. I'm not going to hurt you or hit you or call you names. I'm not going to get you fired or discharged or humiliated or sent to prison."
It's only okay when we all do it. When we all kiss our lovers in public. When we hold hands and stand together and tell the homophobes to go fuck themselves.
I'm not 20 any longer, but I have batdina
, my girlfriend, my partner, my lover.
We'll have been together 15 years in February. We've mostly decided that we don't want to get married. That fight's for someone else.
Being with her has cost me friends and, probably, a brother. My stepfather wants nothing to do with me, but my father and my grandmother have made it clear that they love me and care for my partner. My 90+ year old grandmother even stood up to my stepfather for me.
Once upon a time, we broke a law and could have gone to prison for having consensual, loving sex in a hotel in Louisiana.
Once upon a time, I was bullied and called names and had my parents reading my mail because they were determined to stop me from staying in contact with a girl who'd found the courage to tell me that she loved me.
Once upon a time, I spent a little over seven years working towards the right to stay in this country while friends married their heterosexual lovers and got them green cards in a fraction of the time. I still get emails from friends who want to know how I did it, because they or their lover or someone they know's lover is desperate to find a way to stay in this country and not have to endure the hell that can be a cross-border, long-distance relationship.
Some of these things are better now. It gets better, and it is better.
I do my best not to let anyone push me around these days. Although sometimes, the wrong words from a friend or a stranger can be a punch in the gut that brings up memories of bullying and hateful words and threats from my parents and leaves me crying and angry and wondering how to react.
And the few times that I don't stand up, because I worry about losing a friend or just can't deal with the fallout that day, I feel a little sick and a little as if I've betrayed my 20-year-old self and all the other young queers out there who are working on finding the courage of their sexual orientation.
It is better, but it still needs to get better. And every single person who identifies as queer -- gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex -- who stands up and horrifies someone by holding hands in public or kissing in public or demanding to be allowed to enlist openly and freely, or to marry, every single one of those people is making things a little bit better for the rest of us every single day.