The acceptance of non-binary and fluid gender identity recently took major steps forward in California and Oregon. For some, the progress is glacial. For others, it’s sex run amok.
On June 9, in honor of Pride Month and not long after the death of the man who created the original LGBTQ Rainbow Flag (Gilbert Baker), Facebook introduced a rainbow flag emoji, available alongside the usual icons that appear for responses to posts and messages. I used it many times, myself. Before the month was out, a Facebook user began a movement to add another emoji to the list: a Christian cross.
From the ashes of destruction, so the legend goes, rises the Phoenix, renewed and reborn. The horrible, burning agony—physical and emotional—of the tragedy in Orlando will give rise to a glorious spirit. We can see it appearing already.
Since the Stonewall riots of 1969, the spirit within LGBTQ people has been glowing brighter and stronger every year. The last few years have been the most remarkable yet, because the spirit has been spreading to people who are becoming advocates.
It was 1978 when I met the first gay men I would come to know well. In 1983, across a table at a New York City sidewalk café, one of these men told me in hushed tones about the "gay plague." I'd never heard of it before. Neither of us knew then that within ten years it would claim him.
I remember the mysterious darkness that descended over the community at that time, a darkness that has lightened considerably by now but that still hangs overhead. Paralleling it, also lighter today than thirty years ago, is the progress of LGBTQ acceptance by the general populations of many countries, including the U.S.