Below was the prevailing orthodoxy about gays (and gay men in particular) from the time I was young. This is what I knew about being gay.
And back 40 years ago when I was a suicidal gay teen, this was unimaginable.
A thousand mile journey always begins with one step, and we've come three thousand miles in my lifetime, even after some major setbacks and defeats, a lot of them. In my time, the biggest was the AIDS plague. So many people died. I went to funerals every week. We thought it was the end of our world, that all was lost. And here we are today, stronger and more visible than ever.
And we still have many miles to go. There is still no protection against discrimination in housing and employment on the federal level. Our civil rights, if we have any protection at all, are a patchwork of local and state level laws that vary wildly from state to state. Men and women who can marry their partners and enjoy the full protection of the law in Massachusetts are legally just barely this side of criminal in Oklahoma.
There is no federal recognition of our relationships. Again, marriage laws are a wildly varying patchwork from state to state.
With that in mind, there is every reason to be hopeful about the future. In the meantime, we should live our lives as fully, as well, and as happily as we can in the teeth of all who hate us (as we always have).
Happy Harvey Milk Day!