When I’m introduced these days, it usually goes like this: “This is Gideon. He’s the managing editor at South Florida Gay News. And/But he’s not gay.”
Maybe the friend feels I have to be absolved, my association justified. I used to identify the same way to sources. I don’t anymore. It’s hypocritical. Equality is equality, in all senses.
But when the news team spent an all-nighter covering an election gay-centrically, I figured I’d be a bit out of place, a bit unequal. After all, people in four states wouldn’t be deciding whether my kind deserved less rights, but rather if their kind deserved less rights. Nothing would change for me. I get all the lawful rights and privileges I want. Why should I care, other than about the magnitude of the stories I’d be writing?
Every time an anchor raised his or her voice in the live coverage we kept on all night, the editor-in-chief would turn to look, the sports editor would stop typing. It may sound insane, but these people — these gay people — were listening intently to whether (four of) the United States of America would treat them as equals, or treat them as before, as second class citizens.
Many other states haven’t even begun the decision process.
It reminds me of the novels I was forced to read in high school, the ones about America’s oppression of the blacks: Some obsolete caste system that should be absurd to the teenage reader. And here it was (and is), in full flesh, its heart beating in front of me.
When the first slews of LGBT candidates began announcing victories and the marriage ballots began leaning in favorable directions, the nail hit the wall — this is my world, and these are my peers.
My future children and grandchildren will live by the codes and morals and laws and allowances and prohibitions that my generation is mapping out today.
These votes are progression. These votes are moral development. These votes are the fruit of the Enlightenment, and will hopefully bring with them a distancing from the ancient ideas we once worshipped — and that some of us still do.
Not to be confused, I did not take this job out of some life-long dedication to the cause. Hell, I didn’t know what LGBT stood for until I started freelancing for SFGN when I was in college — and that only because I needed money. But this is where I fell. And seeing what I saw throughout last night makes the work hours a little less apparent, my desk chair a bit more comfortable.
It was a bright moment, though shadows tend to appear when the sun rises.
Around 2 a.m., my sports editor linked me to a collection of tweets from people in the deciding marriage ballot states:
A brunette named Jennifer Terek tweeted, “I feel like crying. Babies will be killed, the gays will disgrace marriage, everyone will be poor and homeless but will have free healthcare.”
A teenager named Hance, who’s lighting a cigarette in his picture and attends junior high, according to his profile, tweeted, “All u faggots in maryland can fucking die.”
The story listed 40 tweets like this. I know there were more.
Yeah. There’s work to be done. That night was a stepping stone, not a destination.
And I’m okay with the fact that it’s my job to record this journey. This forward momentum.