Now that we have marriage equality in many Western countries, is the fight for gay and lesbian rights over?

10 October

Certainly not. Marriage equality was not a priority for many queer people who felt that marriage — with its privileging of a certain narrow model of gender roles, the couple and the family — was not an institution we should fight to be part of. For radical activists, letting a few more people into the club didn’t count for much when they saw the club itself as a locus of social injustice.

It’s a gross irony that in America today many states still don’t have discrimination protection in the workplace and in housing. As a lesbian or gay person, you can get married one day, and fired and kicked out of your apartment the next. On top of that, AIDS still disproportionately affects queer communities; mental health issues resulting from shame and discrimination still plague LGBTQ people worldwide resulting in increased rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicide attempts; and we still get attacked. While the majority might have come out on our side in a number of Western countries, there is an increasingly vocal and violent anti-LGBTQ section of the population here in America and elsewhere that pose a real and present danger.

More broadly, there are cultural inequalities that need to be remedied. Many young people aren’t taught about LGBTQ rights, history and culture at school, such that LGBTQ children are still growing up without access to their heritage and without the means to understand their sexual or gender identity. And to a considerable extent, we still don’t see ourselves reflected in museums, historical sites, public monuments and other settings that would demonstrate our full belonging in our society.

We will always be different: Nobody will ever wake up when they’re ten and tell their parents they’re straight. That won’t change no matter how much equality we receive. Because the fight is for more than just equality: now it’s about respect.  

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