Going the Distance

By: Camille Fassett

My father jokes that I could run before I could walk.  I am a runner.  I love every piece of it, from the fatigue and side-aches to the calming rhythm that sets in after the second mile.  Running is not always easy, but when I first step off my driveway, there are about ten seconds of free and easy sprint.  It is easy to run for ten, fifteen, twenty seconds, the sprint that feels like flying, but it is difficult to pace myself for a ten or fifteen mile run.  

The LGBT movement gained steam, very suddenly and very quickly.  Precious few social justice movements have seized the spotlight, ballot, and media with the same power, and while that is a catalyst for rapid necessary change, the ten second sprint is over.  17 states have recognized same-sex marriage, celebrities and citizens have found the courage to come out of the closet, and LGBT people are finding more and more representation.  It may seem that our war is won – but although we have won many battles, we have not yet won the war.

Runner’s teaches me that I have worked hard.  Without it, the euphoria and cold water after the run would not feel so good.  Likewise, we must continue to push for change, stretch just another inch, even when it seems impossible.  There will be more elections, more lawsuits, more bills, more backlash.  Just last week, Oklahoma lawmakers suggested that all marriages be outlawed to keep same-sex marriage illegal in response to a judge declaring the current ban unconstitutional.  Many states do not outright protect gay, lesbian, or queer people against discrimination in the workplace, and even more offer no protection of trans* people.

Macklemore performed recently at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.  His value to the LGBT movement is questionable and perhaps an interesting potential blog piece, but he certainly got students at my school talking.  I overheard several classmates voicing frustration about the continual media coverage of same-sex marriage and LGBT representation at media.  I heard one say, “I’m so tired of every news piece being about gay people.  It’s old news and it’s time to move on!”  News about states recognizing laws protecting equality is met with shrugs and sighs in government class.  While I am sure the vast majority of students react with the best intentions, they are woefully incorrect.

For every LGBT person out and proud, there is another one living in fear.  For every child raised by an LGBT couple in a same-sex marriage friendly state, there is another one without a second parent adoption.  There are 33 states in which same-sex marriage is still illegal. This means 33 more battles to win.  Even long after every marriage is state and federally protected, cissexism, transphobia, and homophobia will exist in our country.  Both legal and cultural shifts need to occur, and we are far from reaching our finish line.

Sometimes the simplest actions have the biggest impacts.  Type a quick few sentences about what the LGBT movement means to you or how you have been affected by discrimination.  Volunteer for a nonprofit or LGBT organization even if only occasionally, because in my experience meeting the people at the heart of the movement has inspired me to keep going.  Pay attention to the news, and read between the lines, because hate crimes very much exist.  And most importantly in my opinion, speak up against homophobic and transphobic slurs at all times and among all people.

The first ten seconds are easy.  We are long distance runners now, not the Macklemores or Gagas but the footsoldiers, the fundraisers and voters and bloggers and LGBT persons fighting for our own liberation.  Please do not give up now – view the path in front of you with renewed fervor.  May your footsteps may be confident, kind, and strong.  May you keep running.