Homo, Here’s a Hope

ImageIf you’re a gay looking for reasons to be grumpy, you can definitely find some! In the past few months, marriage for same-sex couples has been voted down in Maine and rejected by New York and New Jersey’s state legislatures. If you’re a homosexual looking for the happy, though, you can take heart in the election of Annise Parker, Houston’s first out-lesbian mayor and the homo-in-chief of the 4th largest U.S. city. We can’t get married, but we can get elected! Sometimes, outlooks are only as grim as you choose to view them.

Homo, here’s a hope!

A simple fact seems to have emerged over the last few years: Americans are becoming comfortable with gay people a lot faster than they are the idea of gay people getting married. Like it or not, it’s a reality we have to face, especially in more traditional places like Kansas.  That may not be such a bad thing, though!

Consider the numbers. Houston is a city with 2.2 million people now being lead by a lesbian. In contrast, there have been about 12,000 same-sex marriages in Massachusetts since it became the first state to allow gay nuptials in 2004. Over the past decade, the number of openly gay elected officials nationwide has risen by more than 200, with about 450 homos holding public office. There are cities much smaller than Wichita and states more conservative than Kansas that have city council members, county commissioners, sheriffs, and state representatives and senators who happen to be gay.  Most of these candidates didn’t run because of their sexual orientation; they ran because of they are community-oriented.

The numbers tell a simple fact—when folks get to know us as people, they judge our character, not our characteristics.  Aside from that, though, a broader, more significant impact is had when we take the focus off of ourselves and put it on to other people.  We’re affecting far more lives toiling to build stronger communities than we ever would sweating to plan the perfect wedding!

At the end of the day, all of us are just people. Often when we focus on the differences, though, we become representations of issues much larger than ourselves in the minds of others.  We’re better off toiling toward gradual acceptance than we are fast-tracking a controversy the culture-at-large isn’t ready to embrace. That doesn’t mean that we change our core beliefs or stop standing up for what we believe is right. It just means we accept reality for what it is and do what’s most effective.

Our Kansas motto implores us to look to the stars through difficulty. Those shiny, celestial objects point the way to distant, yet brighter days. True, there won’t be any homos getting hitched on the range anytime soon. But, could there be a city council member or mayor who happens to be gay in the near future? It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility! Hope is only as far off as we allow it to be.