In light of recent successes in passing marriage equality bills, the movement for equality seems to be slowing down. Under the misperception that everyone now has the same legal standing, we forget how much remains undone. There cannot be true equality until there is social equality—when and it is no longer permissible for any person to make derogatory comments in the streets or use homosexuality as an insult.
Even after the passage of the 13th amendment, racism still existed; we have no problem admitting that even after African-Americans successfully accomplished legal equality, the Jim Crow Laws still made the lives of thousands of black people in America wretched. It was not until the revolutionary Civil Rights Movement made social inequality by race incomprehensible that African-Americans truly began to experience equality in this nation. It is important to keep in mind that these results came about not simply because of the law. Rather, it is because of a pervading sentiment that discrimination by skin color was “uncool.” Until similar sentiments become widespread concerning sexual orientation, homophobia will persist, regardless of anything Congress passes.
My next point is addressed to two high school juniors whom I overheard using each other’s fanaticism over male actors and/or male athletes as a way of figuring out one another’s sexual orientation. Although they haven’t (in my hearing) used homosexuality as a slur, I can hear the voices in our hallways doing exactly that. And although (I hope) more students than just me wish to confront these voices regarding their bigotry, there are too many other students who simply don’t care. Until these apathetic citizens muster a sense of responsibility, we cannot change the distressing lack of equality in this supposedly egalitarian country. More is left to be done.