Written by Carl Phillips, Voicewaves Youth Journalist
Carl Phillips, Voicewaves Youth Journalist. Photo by Prumsodun Ok.
One small step for man, one giant leap for gaykind! While that may not be how the iconic quote goes, it certainly sums up what many gay and lesbian couples in New York must feel after the legalization of gay marriage in their home state. New York is by no means the first state to take this step forward in the LGBTQ movement. But it can be argued that New York, with its huge population and important place in American culture and history, is by far the most important.
While I’m still wearing my glitter clogs of gay celebration, I can’t help but feel a little down though. Being born and raised here in Long Beach, California, I’ve always been around diversity. Race, religion, educational experience, and sexual orientation were as varied for me as people’s favorite colors. When I first “came out,” it was in the third grade. I was eight and decided to kiss another boy named Christopher on the playground. After that, I was taken to the principal’s office where I informed her that all the boys wanted to kiss each other and that’s what we were supposed to do. Imagine my surprise when I was informed of the opposite! However, once I knew I was gay, I never felt any different; teachers and other students never treated me differently either. And as I grew into a young gay man, I actually never felt different. Well, I felt slightly better groomed than my heterosexual counterparts but that’s neither here nor there.
The point is, being gay was something that really didn’t seem to bother anyone. I always counted myself lucky to live in such a forward thinking place as California. Reading horror stories such as that of Matthew Sheppard in which a young man was tortured and murdered simply for being gay in Wyoming made me even more aware of just how lucky I was to be where I was. California’s previous decision to legalize same sex marriage came as no surprise. However, what was surprising — and disappointing — was Prop 8 and the decision to overturn same sex marriage in California not too soon after it was legalized.
With the gay marriage hurtle being struck down in such an iconic state like New York, as well as the recent repeal of the military policy, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I am more proud of my nation than ever before. But, at the same time, as a Californian, I feel a little cheated. I’ve always considered this the home of gay culture and a place more progressive than other states. But I guess anything worth having is worth fighting for and many Californians — gay and hetero alike — have stepped forward to make sure that gay rights are heard and respected. So, we’ll let New York trailblaze a path and we’ll follow close behind. Not many people may know Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk the moon, but all that matters is that he got there.