i promise, it gets better

the pride flag flies high over seattle's space needle

today, we celebrate new york.

we celebrate them because they are the 6th state in the union to legalize gay marriage. and it gives hope that maybe our backward nation is finally starting to turn itself around.

over the years, i’ve come to know a number of GLBT people, teens and adults alike, and they all seemed so well adjusted, so happy (especially the teenagers), it never really occurred to me that maybe they were just really good actors. of course, i live in seattle, which is one of the most flexible and open minded places to live, so that may have done something to…hinder? enhance? it probably did something screwy to my perspective. or maybe it was the church i attended. unlike most within the christian faith, it was an “opening and affirming” congregation, and two of the ministers were gay men. and i adored them. they were awesome people. they still are, even though i consider myself agnostic these days.

it seems like we’re making some progress, but then every time we take a step forward, there’s another (sometimes huge) step back. mayor mcginn showed his enthusiastic support today at the pride parade, leading a chant of “washington state is next!” but just last week, when attorney general rob mckenna announced he would be running for governor on the repbulican ticket, it was made known that should our state’s legislature pass a bill allowing gay marriage, he would veto it. up until then, i actually liked the man. but now…not so much. rallies in paris and berlin today, pushing for gay rights, were largely peaceful, and then in st. petersburg, russia, 14 people were arrested for trying to start a gay rights protest. our evening news showed footage from today’s pride parade and the raising of the pride flag atop the space needle…which almost didn’t happen. the owners of the needle didn’t want to allow it, but after public pressure, finally agreed to let them raise it as long as they met a fundraising goal of $50,000.00, proceeds of which were to be distributed among several gay-friendly organizations in the greater seattle area.

which is why we still need things like the it gets better project.

you probably remember the suicides of several teens last year after inscesant bullying over their sexual orientation. the fact that they happened at all is horrifying and downright disgusting. but the answer to that was the it gets better project, the brainchild of dan savage and his husband, terry.

it gets better has all sorts of resources for teens and young adults who are having trouble coping with bullying and the…disruption of coming out can cause for so many around them. there are videos, a blog, and phone numbers and web links for information and support. my favorite is the timeline, showing just how much the organization has grown since its inception last year.

i wish this had been around 10 years ago. on a high school trip with my choir, i was rooming with my friend, lisa, and two other girls. one night, after i’d gone to bed and lisa assumed i was actually asleep, she confessed to our roommates, in typical light-hearted lisa fashion, that she had a girlfriend back home, and that she was bi. the way she said it made it sound like it wasn’t a huge deal to her, and it probably wasn’t, to some degree. but what always bothered me about it was that she had no idea i was awake and had heard her. and that she’d chosen not to share that with me. i’d assumed we were pretty close, and for all intents and purposes, we were. she was hands down the best part of my junior year, and even though she graduated a year ahead of me, we still hung out quite a bit the following year before i left for college.

i can’t ask her why she didn’t tell me. i never did when she was alive, partly because after college we drifted apart, and partly because i felt that there had to have been some reason that she chose not to, and i should respect that choice. but i can’t help but wonder sometimes if she thought i’d judge her, or that i would love her any less, or that, god forbid, i thought it was just a passing phase or that she really wanted to date ME but, knowing i was straight, everything would be all awkward between us. and i’d like to say that nothing would have changed between us, but…well, it’s 10 years past, so there’s no point in dwelling on it. and really, this isn’t about me. it’s about lisa, and all the others, and their reasons for speaking up or not saying a word.

but if i ever am lucky enough to have someone as open and caring as lisa as a friend again, i am damn well going to make sure i’m the kind of person they know they could say anything to, and i won’t say a word against them. so. i signed the pledge. if you want to sign it, too, click here.

*image via seattlepi.com

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