Diego Dela Rosa

I was in New York City on June 26, 2015 when the iconic Obergefell v. Hodges case deemed state-level bans of same sex marriage unconstitutional. The parades, fireworks, demonstrations, celebrations and the rest of festivities that erupted in the progressive city overwhelmed me and opened my eyes to a community I identified with.

However, my optimistic outlook on life was soon crushed by the comments of my family. I come from a Mexican family and like many Latino families, mine was big on the idea of machismo and masculine ideals—something I never truly identified with.

As the parades carried into the night, my family and I were all cooped in the hotel room and their true opinions on the matter came out. They talked about how these “faggots” celebrate too much, that it was against what they believed in, the stereotypes about gays they found funny and they also mentioned how marriage was clearly supposed to be between a man and a woman. I kept quiet and knew that they did not mean it. They did not mean it, right? Did they know they were talking about me?

We left the “Big Apple” the next day and made it a point to wake up earlier than expected to avoid traffic caused by the pride parades that were commencing. As I looked out the window of our cab I saw the drag queens, the leather harnesses, the tutus, and most importantly I saw joy and pride in its most genuine form. It gave me hope and encouragement, something that I was lacking prior to this.

I share this experience because it was the first time I finally embraced my true self—this was only the beginning. A couple of weeks later, I decided to publicly come out as being gay. Since then I have received immense support from close friends and colleagues. Even my family is extremely supportive now after I expressed who I truly am.

In this day and age, being part of the LGBTQ+ community is so great because we have progressed so much as a community and personally I have started to feel safe in my own skin. However, not too long ago I began questioning the motives of protestors and activists. I began to think that pride parades were just excuses for gays to dress in leather harnesses and make a fool of themselves as they walk down the street. I began to take my rights for granted.

The main issue was that I began to feel comfortable, and this sense of comfortability led to complacency which means that we are okay with what we have. Our society has made strides of progress, but recently there have been atrocious acts of violence and hate towards the LGBTQ+ community and we can not be passively tolerant towards what is happening around us.

We should not be okay with the 49 lives that were lost in the Orlando Pulse club shooting last year, we should not be okay with concentration camps operating to eliminate homosexuals in Chechnya, we should not be okay with marriage equality not being a global human right, we should not be okay with having some rights but not equal rights.

Choosing to be okay with all of these different things would be disrespectful for the lives that were lost, those who are closeted because they could be killed if they admit their sexuality and also for the community as a whole. Now is not the time to be fine with what we have, we have a voice. We have fought so hard for this voice in society and we must use it. We can not remain mute, we have to scream at the top of our lungs to compensate for the decades that we have been tied down. This is not crying over spilt milk, this is crying over the blood that Harvey Milk shed in order for us to have the liberties that we have today in the queer community.

I want us to become more political and advocate for change throughout campus. However, people willing to fight for their rights first have to feel comfortable within themselves.

So whether you are gay, lesbian, cisgender, non binary, heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual or support love and equality please use your voice to make the world a better place. To all my closeted readers, I know how hard and how scary it is but know that there is a whole community out there who loves you and who will embrace you for who you are. In order to demand respect and acceptance in this society we have to be visible, because if we cower in fear then we will continue to be left neglected in the shadows. The shade is comfortable, but it is nowhere near the ecstasy you are going to feel when you finally let the sun shine on your beautiful soul.