There is Still a Long Ways to Go

Graphics: Analisa Hernandez

 

When we see headlines about the legal advancements that have been made in terms of LGBTQ+ rights, it’s easy to assume that queerphobia doesn’t still affect the community, but that isn’t the case. 

Same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States in  2015, but the LGBTQ+ community was and is still suffering due to the lack of support that is given to us. Although there was legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, many gay men who were surveyed in the years after reported experiencing anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol abuse as well as feelings of loneliness and isolation. Despite the support for said legislation going from 27 percent in 1961 to 61 percent in 2016, gay people are between two and ten times more likely to commit suicide and two times more likely to have a major episode of depression than heterosexuals(1). The right to marry was equal under the law, but the queer community was and is still being neglected in society. The effects of this neglection include, exclusion of LGBTQ+ history and sex education in schools, bullying, and self-hatred that increases the likelihood of mental illnesses leading queer individuals to take their own lives.

On Monday, June 15, the Supreme Court ruled that members of the LGBTQ+ community are protected from job discrimination under Title VII, a provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (2). As it should be, this ruling is being celebrated as a significant victory for the queer community, but legal policies are not all it will take for us to achieve complete social equality. 

Even with the Supreme Court’s new ruling, employers could still turn away people who are visibly queer. People who don’t fit into the gender binary and present outside the norm for the gender they were assigned at birth could be denied the position because the way they present is perceived as unprofessional or because they “wouldn’t fit” with the organization that they’re being interviewed for. Those like me who “pass” as heterosexual and are comfortable presenting the way they’re “supposed to” according to their sex are truly protected under Title VII, but people who look and/or act stereotypically queer may not always be. Interviewers who have biases against the LGBTQ+ community aren’t going to stop feeling that way because the laws changed, and until these biases aren’t acceptable in society, discrimination will continue to happen. 

As a girl who likes girls, it was difficult for me to come to terms with my sexuality due to the fetishization and stereotyping of queer women in American society. For example, we see this objectification of queer women at corporate levels, such as the porn and advertisement industry, in which these types of reletionships are mistreated and abused for entertainment. Before I came out, I would exaggerate or even fake crushes on boys because I would rather have people think I was “boy crazy” than come out and have people think I’m predatory or overtly sexual. Since coming out, I’ve had boys make inappropriate sexual comments about me, and others have said that I can’t possibly be queer because of how feminine I present.

 At my high school, you can’t go a day without hearing someone use the word “gay” as an insult. I’m extremely lucky to have friends and family who love me for who I am no matter what that is, but for someone who doesn’t have that, experiencing these things can be incredibly damaging. With little to no normalization of LGBTQ+ identities, there will continue to be the idea that these things are weird or unnatural. Acceptance comes from understanding, and if students are exposed to different kinds of people, they’re more likely to treat everyone with human decency.

We cannot continue to be complacent with the progress that we have made because there is still a long way to go. Our children need to be taught to respect and listen to queer voices and be tolerant of individuals considered not to fit societal norms, and those of us in the community who pass need to recognize our privilege and listen to those who don’t. 

Staff Writer: Maeve Korengold

Maeve Korengold is sixteen years old, a rising junior in high school. She loves music, and she sings in her school choir and she plays the guitar. She is very passionate about writing, and aspires to pursue a career in it in the future.

Graphics: Analisa Hernandez

Works Cited:

  1. Hobbes, Micheal. “The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness.” HIGHLINE, 2 Mar. 2017, 

     highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/gay-loneliness/. Accessed 20 June 2020.

  1. Sherman, Mark. “Justices Rule LGBT People Protected from Job Discrimination.” 

     AP News, 15 June 2020, apnews.com/ef3c19a79b65c060fd9e82b9dd87a1d9. Accessed 20 June 2020.

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