This is an essay that first appeared in a slightly different form in H.O.W. Journal #11 (2015).Read More
There’s a conversation I’ve been having for over a year now, mostly with myself, that I really want to bring you in on. A quick warning, however: the heart of the matter here is sexuality. If that topic is not your cup of tea, dear reader, it's totally fine to jet off. You are under no obligation to stick around. Okay?
Okay. It’s Sunday, January 1st. The newborn year is 2017.
This is the northernmost part of Wisconsin, approximately one mile from Chequamegon Bay on the western end of Lake Superior. The sky is grey and white. There is plenty of snow on the ground. Temperatures are in the low 20s (Fahrenheit) and the Bay is nearly frozen over. This is the upper half of the midwestern United States, looking like it has every winter of my life.
I’m twenty-eight years old. I am a cisgender, white American male from a comfortable socio-economic background, with two living parents who love me unconditionally. I was raised on home-grown vegetables and Wisconsin cheese and the Green Bay Packers. I liked to pretend I was a wizard or a warrior prince up until approximately the tenth grade. I was also born gay, and waited until I was twenty-five to come out.
Of course, that’s the beginning of another story. (One already told, incidentally, in an essay first published in Issue 11 of H.O.W. Journal. If you’re curious, you’ll be able to read “The Haunted City” here soon.)
What I want to get at now is that while sexuality is only part of my identity, it’s important to me in the way sexuality is low-key important to nearly everyone. I’m gay and now, in my late-twenties, I’ve stopped trying to ignore it or minimize it.
And as my own comfort with my sexuality has grown and I’ve become increasingly transparent about it - drawn it more firmly into the public spheres of my life - I’ve begun to think like an active member of a minority community. I’ve started looking for ways to get involved - not solely as an activist for equality and safety and various capital gains in the present, but as a member of a generation now roughly maturing into its mentorship of the next.
I admit, the idea that the generation following mine will largely know no life without the Internet or cell phones or Barack Obama makes millennial me feel queer AF. But what really makes my head spin is this: for every American born after 2015, men marrying men and women marrying women will just be a thing that can happen. We're in an undeniably Unique Moment.
So, dear reader, how can we make the most of this set-up? What action can we take? How can we better the present and the future for LGBT Americans? I think I see a sound place to start - and I'm both challenging you and inviting you to join me this year as I explore the landscape.
Let's get progressive.