I came out as gay my junior year in high school. That was in 2011.
It wasn't overwhelmingly difficult for me, besides the fact that a few key members in my family have expressed disapproval of the "gay lifestyle." However, they've made a point to let me know that they still love me. My friends were cool with it, and those who didn't really know me just didn't believe me because I didn't "look" like a lesbian. As if someone's sexual orientation has anything to do with their looks. I guess some still cling to the idea that if someone is "this" they will look like "that." I'm sure everything else in their world also fits into neat little categories, too.
Even before I came out, I was very passionate about gay rights. Since 7th grade, I've had openly gay friends. I remember seeing them bullied and feeling so disgusted by the fact that one human being could treat another with such little respect, all based on a person's sexual orientation.
At that age, I wasn't even sure that I was gay. I just felt a strong connection to the cause.
You can be straight or gay or lesbian or transgendered, and work to support equal rights. This is one of the reasons I, like many, respected the actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie when they told the world that they would not marry until everyone had that same right.
I don't follow celebrity news very closely. Brad Pitt's biggest appeal to women has always been his good looks and that doesn't do anything for me. I've loved Angelina Jolie, on the other hand, since "Tomb Raider." I think I must've been 8 or 9 when that came out, and even then I had a bit of a crush on her. I've been a fan ever since. She and Brad together make a classy couple, and I find their beautiful family inspiring. I have long admired the way they live their lives and the way they seem to view the world.
They both seem to put great value on human life and the equality of all people. They've been more supportive of the gay community than the typical Hollywood couple, and it was notable for me and many others when Brad stated in 2006 that he and Angie would "consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able."
That is huge! That is the little gay rights cheerleader inside my head jumping up and down, cheering Brangelina on! Straight allies make me especially excited and grateful. Those people are willing to fight for the cause that doesn't directly affect them. I love that. So, for Brad and Angelina to make such a huge statement felt bigger than big.
Which is why their wedding this past weekend made me slightly sad. I mean, I'm happy for them and wish them only the best in their life together as husband and wife.
But I still can't get married in 31 states.
I'm a firm believer in following through. That goes for anything. If there's even a slight chance that you won't be able to do something, don't say you will -- or at least don't say you will repeatedly throughout the course of eight years. I really wish Brad and Angie had followed through on what they had been saying for so long.
Brad said that his kids were pushing for marriage. While I understand them wanting to marry for their children, I wish they would have thought of that before making such a bold statement.
The right for gays to marry is spreading more rapidly than in the past, but we're not even halfway there yet.
In my mind, the institution of marriage is about keeping your word. I suppose that's why it's hard to get beyond this broken promise.