Back in the early 80’s our community was united in the fight against AIDS and more recently we’ve been united in the fight for marriage equality. Unfortunately AIDS is still with us but it’s not the unifying force it once was. The fear of the disease has dissipated and I get the sense that many people just see it as an unfortunate part of life like diabetes or heart disease. Gay marriage on the other hand has been a tremendous success. Granted we’ll continue to deal with flair ups from country clerks but those are very minor and will dissipate as time goes on. With the fight against AIDS locked in a standoff and the fight for marriage won, what will unite us now? Many of the more committed activists will quickly point out that there is still a long fight for work place protection and that the war isn’t over yet. While that’s true it’s not a very tangible thing for people to get passionate about especially since many large companies have already taken steps to ensure equal protection. It’s kind of like when you have a big party and no one wants to stick around to help you clean up afterward. Although there is still work to be done we all just want to move on and go home.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I’ve started to wonder where do we go now? For the past several years gay rights groups have done an incredible job at organizing and sending out a clear message of marriage, marriage, marriage. It’s a great accomplishment and we should all take a moment to celebrate the victory. But who will be left to clean up after the party? I predict we’ll start to see a slow but very large shift in the gay community away from activism. For example I suspect HRC will see a dramatic decrease in their yearly donations. The most passionate activists will march on but how many of us will be there with them?
I’ll be honest and admit that I’m not sure I have enough fire to continue to fight when it feels like our win is almost guaranteed. Laziness and complacency are very hard to overcome. My feelings toward gay right are becoming similar to my feeling about the troops going off to fight in actual wars. I totally respect and support them for fighting but don’t want to have to get off the couch and do anything. Overall not having injustice to fight against is a real gift that we are getting closer to everyday. Hopefully we will retain our sense of community and brotherhood while assimilating into general society.