Though I’m from the United States, I’ve been enjoying my summer north of the border in Canada. In many ways, the United States and Canada are similar. Walking down the street and observing the culture, you could mistake Toronto for a more diverse version of Chicago, New York or San Francisco.
But beneath the surface, Canada is quite different. For one, same-sex marriage has been recognized nationwide since 2005.
Back in the states, marriage equality is only present in a handful of states – and none of those same-sex marriages are recognized at the federal level. But there is momentum and movement, and progress is being made. Though that progress often feels slow, in the larger context of human history, things have changed fairly quickly.
In 1969 – a mere 14 years before I was born – a group of queer folk, drag queens and homeless youth fought back against a system that persecuted sexual minorities. Protests and riots ensued, and the movement for queer equality was officially born.
Walking down Toronto’s uber-gay Church Street, and seeing men openly embracing men and women cuddling women, it’s easy to forget that only 40 years have passed. And it’s equally easy to forget that our progress has come on the backs, sacrifices, blood, sweat and tears of the generations before us.
Some of us may not feel a strong connection to the gay community. And that is fine. But all of us are indebted to the tireless men and women that have made our journeys easier.
For all of you that have ever marched, written letters, lobbied your representatives, protested or taken a stand for love, I thank you. I am grateful.