After The Supreme Court Decision: How To Turn Equality Into A Reality
It's been an unforgettable month for the LGBT community, which culminated in the Supreme Court's landmark decision to legalize gay marriage across the country.
While the fight for equal rights is seemingly won, there still remains a question of implementation: How can we turn the idea of equality into a notion people actually practice?
After all, there's a difference between tolerance and acceptance, and our society still has a long way to go toward the latter.
This is a question Daniel Errico has been grappling with for quite some time. Errico authored a children's book featuring a gay protagonist, titled "The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived."
Like any protagonist, the hero slays the dragon, but instead of getting the girl, he gets the guy and lives happily ever after.
While the book was well-received and generally garnered high praise, it also received harsh criticism and, in some cases, outright rejection.
The fact of the matter is some people claim to be "alright" with the LGBT community in theory, but they are uncomfortable dealing with it in real life.
We saw that mentality drive the "don't ask, don't tell" military policy for many years.
Even now, on the heels of such a momentous and proud time for our country, some opponents of the decision are adamantly against compliance and debating the extent to which they will recognize the new law.
If we continue to segregate ourselves by our differences (in this case, by gender and sexual preference), all we'll be doing is repeating history.
So, what can we do to break the mold? How can we learn from past mistakes and ensure we're truly achieving equality and not just the appearance of it?
Focus on the future
The sad truth of the matter is you might not be able to change your grandmother's mind about gay marriage. Some people are so set in their prejudices, they'll never see past them.
The important thing is to focus on the younger people in your life — nieces, nephews, younger siblings — and make sure they're well-informed and accepting of all others.
We've already seen a shift in public attitudes. President Obama recently noted that when he took office, only two states allowed gay marriage. Prior to the Supreme Court decision, gay marriage was legal 37 states.
That's all in less than a decade. With continued efforts, who knows what we could accomplish in 20 years?
Establish a public discussion
Shows like "Modern Family," "What Would You Do?" and "Orange is the New Black" are exploring LGBT issues head-on. And with the high-profile debut of Caitlyn Jenner, everyone is talking about what it means to be transgender.
Discussion is the first step to spreading knowledge. This is crucial in facilitating true integration because people ultimately fear the unknown. If we can make LGBT lifestyles familiar and commonplace, they won't appear as threatening.
Support your LGBT friends and family members
This past weekend, Facebook profile pictures everywhere donned rainbow filters as a way to express solidarity and support.
It's heartwarming to see people rallying behind love instead of hate, and it's exactly the kind of sentiment that has helped change public perception of gay marriage.
It might have been taboo to have a friend or family member come out as gay or transgender once upon a time, but that's simply not the case today.
Take EJ Johnson, for instance, everyone's favorite rich kid of Beverly Hills.
His dad, Magic Johnson, has repeatedly voiced his unconditional love for EJ, no matter his sexuality.
Make sure your friends and family know you support them, too. Even if you think they already know, it never hurts to reassure them.
Eventually, love and acceptance will become the norm and drive out the hate.
We may have won the battle, but there's still a ways to go before we can say we've won the war against LGBT discrimination.
Thankfully, with our generation leading the country, we're one step closer to justice for all.