"It might not be as easy as you think"
—Prison guard to Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell) as he leaves at the end of his sentence, O Lucky Man (Lindsey Anderson, 1973)
Beautiful writing, Steve, moving and heartfelt. You are without doubt a significant voice.
I am however reminded of Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union, where 70 years of repression did nothing to stop the immediate resurgence of antisemitism, underground over three generations yet flourishing again.
And reminded also of the terrible steps back in the last four years where the liberation of America's beating Heart of Darkness has seen a similar resurgence of bigotry in all its many ugly forms. We have come a long way, but we have further to go.
I feel your core point deeply. I am gay and I have striven for equality in a society that outnumbers us nineteen to one, only to see that quest thwarted as much among my fellows as by the bigots, where the goal of political activism was to be as offensive as possible, that any action which failed to anger the "str8s" was seen as self-hatred and assimilative cowardice. If we didn't marginalize ourselves we were selling out.
We can change behavior with laws; we cannot reach into heads and change attitudes. To reach that world envisioned by Dr. King is going to take the replacement of intransigent bigots with new generations to whom their ancestors' hatreds are senseless.
This is what happened with gays; young people with gay friends, classmates, then coworkers find the bigotry of their grandparents unintelligible and perplexing. Same-sex marriage has in a few scant years come to seem, for want of a better word, normal.
I am proud that in my 67 years I have never once uttered that N word, save to mock it or refer to it; I am not so proud to remember that when I saw a black man in the copier room at Microsoft I assumed he was there to repair the machine, and a few hours later saw his face on the cover of a magazine about databases. I struggle to understand that presumption.
Keep writing, Steve.
Can Tho, Vietnam