Inspiration

On Gay Marriage, Equal Rights, and Speaking Out

May 10, 2012
Barack Obama on Gay Marriage

Yesterday’s news that President Obama is now publicly supporting gay marriage has brought up a lot of chatter and caused some emotions to run high throughout the nation. When I heard the news, I was enjoying a respite from city life up in my friend’s recording studio. We had discussed the North Carolina amendment vote the night before and my heart went out to my friends that have campaigned aggressively to block this amendment from passing.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of fear and even some hatred that drives people to create barriers for others in order for them to feel secure themselves.

I rarely openly discuss contentious political or social issues like this here, but I can’t help but feel compelled to speak up today. I’ve never been the type to proclaim my sexuality or make a fuss about gay marriage. Although I am gay, the prospect of marriage just seemed so far from my reality that it didn’t pull me into direct action. It wasn’t my fight, so I stayed on the sidelines.

Human Rights CampaignMany of my friends are ardent activists and have fought for this issue and many other gay rights issues for years and even decades. Today’s victory belongs to them, there is no doubt. But it is undeniably shared with the rest of us that quietly go about our lives without rocking the boat. Some choose this out of fear, some out of comfort, and some because they just don’t want the spotlight on themselves under any circumstances. I can relate to all of these reasons and that’s why speaking out now is so important.

When I was very young, I knew I was gay. It was something I just felt from an early age and I never really questioned it. Sure, I tried to hide it and pretend that it wasn’t part of who I was, but I didn’t deny it to myself.

There were no gay role models then; no Internet to connect with supportive resources. To be sure, it was a different world then. In my middle school and high school years, there were plenty of people that suspected I was gay, and after being outed in the 9th grade, there were several kids in my school that wanted to beat the shit out of me. I managed to avoid physical confrontations in those years, but the threat of being assaulted was ever present.

I learned survival skills back then, one of which was how to be a chameleon and blend in with most any crowd. The last thing I wanted to do was attract too much attention – it was out of fear. I was fearful for my personal safety, but I learned how to keep myself safe by getting along with people who might have contempt for gay people, or people that were just ‘different.’ This pattern of learning how to fit in to avoid detection served me when I had fewer options, but it has turned into a liability over the years and it manifests in ways that I don’t like today.

Today brought it all to a head for me. While I am not in hiding any longer and will openly discuss my sexual preference with anyone who asks, I have been far from active in the movement for equal rights for LBGT people. Thankfully others have been much more active and the progression toward acceptance has continued to pick up momentum.

Barack Obama on Gay Marriage

But when someone like a US President speaks out, it’s time for us all to raise our hands and be counted amongst the millions of people who are denegrated and disrespected regularly in our culture.

The President spoke out and took a huge political risk for us, and we owe it to ourselves to use this as a moment to show solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters and remind the rest of the world that we are part of the fabric of society and will not hide in the shadows while our rights are trampled on.

There are many who believe that this is not an issue that belongs in Presidential politics, and in all honesty I tend to agree. There are urgent issues that our nation, and indeed our entire species faces that require our immediate attention.

But I also understand what it means to be subjected to hate, bigotry, discrimination, and the prejudices of society on a daily basis. I know what it’s like to feel alone in a struggle for basic respect. And I know what it’s like to lose your dignity out of fear of being discovered and physically harmed.

While gay marriage may not be a top pressing issue for a US President to crusade for, I admire Barack Obama for speaking his mind, however unpopular his opinion might be in certain circles. I don’t expect any immediate broad, sweeping changes as a result of his remarks, but I do hope it will help steer the conversation in our nation toward acceptance, understanding, and love.

If someone in his position can speak out and be honest about his feelings on this, perhaps many others will follow.

I never thought I would write this post. I’ve historically kept this side of myself fairly ambiguous in social media channels, but I feel compelled to speak up now. I hope that this will help in some small way to explain a side of the issue that some may not have heard.

What about you? Is there something in your life that you feel like speaking out on? Just imagine how the world can benefit from hearing your voice.

10 Comments

  • Reply Simone Lipscomb May 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    I haven’t been one to speak my mind about people’s choices because I have always felt people have a right to choose who to love and/or live without comment from anyone. I mean what right do we have to judge others? But the pre-amendment vote in NC called me forth from my quiet corner to stand up for the rights of people to live together…be they gay or straight. The same thing happened with the Gulf Oil Spill…I was the quiet little tree hugger in the background allowing the world to pass by without uttering much even though I recycled and was green. 

    It IS time for all of us to speak up for what we believe in. The folks that have no right to judge others have been speaking out for years. Why shouldn’t we? About ALL THE ISSUES that touch us, that touch those we love.

    Bravo for speaking out Brandon. I stand beside you and all people who wish to speak up for such an important issue!

    • Reply Brandon Sutton May 15, 2012 at 9:20 am

      Thank you for the thoughts, Simone. I know it must have been tough for people who live or have lived in NC to see that amendment pass. I suppose if something positive comes out of it, in the end it will be for the best. The same can potentially hold true for the oil spill, IF we learn from it and change course. I know you are with me on this one!

      Thank you again for standing beside me. It’s an honor to share this journey with you. 🙂

  • Reply Lisa Robbins May 10, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Awesome, Brandon!!

  • Reply Lyn May 11, 2012 at 7:31 am

    It’s a shame that “speaking out” has become the not-so-cool thing to do – probably because so much of the last decade has found us politically and otherwise drawing lines in the sand – your over here and I’m over here thinking.  How about forgetting those lines and just honestly listening and sharing, and then respecting our differences-be they sexual orientation, politics, religion, etc.  Thanks, Brandon, for reminding us that this is really the right thing to do!

    • Reply Brandon Sutton May 15, 2012 at 9:18 am

       Thank you for the feedback, Lyn.  I appreciate the ongoing support!

  • Reply Shelly May 23, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    As always, a well written post Brandon! 

    Personally, I’ve never been able to comprehend the ignorance, fear, hate – whatever you want to call it that causes people to try to control the lives of others that don’t ‘match’ their own lives…  I don’t even try to understand them.

    I don’t see the political advantage of Obama making these statements – which to me means even more! 

    Even if you haven’t been an ‘activist’ – you have at least lived your life as YOUR LIFE and I applaud you for that!  Hope you’re doing well! xo

    • Reply Brandon Sutton May 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      Thank you, Shelly. I suppose if we all just lived OUR lives instead of trying to live others’ lives, we’d all be better off, eh?  🙂

  • Reply Mike Jones June 18, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Thank you, Shelly. I suppose if we all just lived OUR lives instead of trying to live others’ lives, we’d all be better off, eh?

  • Reply MikeJones June 25, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Thank you, Shelly. I suppose if we all just lived OUR lives instead of
    trying to live others’ lives, we’d all be better off, eh?  🙂

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