I came out of the closet in September 2003. The next July, President Bush stood up in the Rose Garden of the White House and called for an amendment to the constitution that would have prevented the scenes of jubilation across the country last week. Last Friday was a day that I honestly thought would never come.
I don’t think even the most optimistic among us could have predicted what would happen for LGBT Americans over the next twelve years. While there are still important protections to be gained - the Employment Non-Discrimination Act chief among them - the tide has turned dramatically. Not only have we won equal marriage, we have won the culture war definitively. Where coming out almost anywhere in the United States once was cause for becoming a pariah, being gay is now “cool” in much of the country, and certainly in our popular discourse.
I honestly thought that we would win legal equality long before social equality. I was wrong. And beyond this stunning shift on gay and lesbian rights, the past year has seen the discourse on transgender Americans begin to change as well.
When Caitlyn Jenner came out of the closet earlier this year, she was celebrated. I think the comparable celebrity for gay and lesbian Americans was Ellen Degeneres - her cover of TIME magazine was the first time I heard the word “gay,” and she spent the next ten years of her career in exile. I think about my young trans cousin CJ, and I'm so glad for how he'll be received in the world.
We’re not done. Too many LGBT people around the world are still oppressed, many still here in America. But seeing Mexico legalize gay marriage just weeks before the United States, I know it’s not long for other places as well. So I’m greeting this news with joy and hope, and without reservation. I truly can’t believe how far we’ve come.
Last Friday was a good day.