Parallel paths, different results

The LGBT community has a secret synergy with cannabis consumers. Both groups foolishly hid the same thing for too long—the truth about who they were and what they liked. 

Gays had sex in the shadows and pot smokers lit up in dark rooms illuminated by black lights. Wrongly marginalized by larger communities that disapproved of who we were and what we did, we stayed in our respective closets, concealing our activities.

Thankfully, the world is changing. America’s adapting to gay marriage and several states have legalized marijuana. Neither causes were socially popular a decade ago, but today there are dispensaries, pot shops and gay weddings across the country. Among other things, we’ve learned that planes still fly on time in Colorado and the Bubonic Plague has not invaded Massachusetts.

While gay activists celebrate national victories, cannabis proponents continue to chip away on the state and local levels. But the gay community has it right. We’ve come out of the closet. We’ve fought for our rights. Unlike too many smokers who lit up weed in the comfort of their bedroom and bought it secretly from local dealers, we posted human rights stickers on our bumpers and paraded our love in local gay rights festivals. We were out and proud. We were everywhere. We didn’t hide behind closed doors.

The LGBT community advanced marijuana medicinally for cannabis smokers’ decades ago. We saw how many of our friends used cannabis to offset the wasting syndrome of AIDS. We smoked out and spoke out to demand public access to every medicine we could get, from marijuana to Motrin. We weren’t worried about what others thought; we cared about what we needed.

The government tried to scare us away from homosexuality by warning us that teachers were trying to corrupt us. In the same way, the government warned us about drug dealers pushing their trade in schoolyards. But the point’s the same. There was some horrible adult trying to induce us to do something evil. “They’re after your kids,” was the stern warning. “They’re going to recruit your children.”

Ever so slowly, our society is learning it never had to fear gay love or cannabis consumption. It might not be right for everyone, but it’s not right to take liberties away from anyone. Bob and Bill having sex in one apartment in your neighborhood won’t stop Gil and Jill from safely raising their children in theirs around the corner.

Gays and stoners are not tearing down society; we’re shattering social barriers. Even though our opponents have targeted both groups with senseless prejudice, we’re productive in the workforce and in our homes. Cannabis users don’t need treatment and gays don’t require therapy. What we want is unconditional acceptance for who we are and what we choose to do, and laws that protect us, not persecute us.

Food taste better on pot, sex is hotter, colors are brighter and people are happier. Life is more meaningful with a pleasant high. Lighting up might be the opening to look inside yourself and become the person you always wanted to be. Maybe that joint yesterday helped you accept yourself as a gay person today.

One overriding constant stands out: Gays and our rainbows have a lot in common with pot smokers and their herbs. We’re both in bed together. 

Norm Kent is the former Chair of NORML, the publisher of the South Florida Gay News and Freedom Leaf’s LGBT Ambassador.