I love my dad. I love his sparkly rainbow sneakers and the way he says hi to the people behind the counter at the supermarket and the video store. I love how he can chat with the old people at the retirement homes where he teaches theatre. I love his crazy food plans and random bursts of song and dance in the middle of a busy street. I love him unconditionally, because he is my dad and that is what a daughter does.
My dad is gay. It doesn’t mean I’m homosexual, it doesn’t mean my family is any stranger than yours; it is just a fact in my life.
The first time I heard someone make a homophobic joke was in fifth grade. A couple of boys were talking before class started one day, just having fun. From my desk in the middle row, I heard one voice rise above the others and guffaw, “That’s so gay.”
I was surprised at how much his words stung. I marched up to him, ten-year-old head held high, and yelled at him for replacing the word “stupid” with “gay.” “My dad is gay. Is he stupid?” The boy looked at me, embarrassed at being singled out, and turned back to his friend.
When I look back on that day in fifth grade, the day a child’s joke turned into a personal insult, I remember the words of Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” Although I see how flawed his use of the word “men” was, I’ll never forget this ideal of equality. This simple phrase from the declaration that started an independent nation echoes through my ears as I open the newspaper each morning, praying that nothing has happened to jeopardize the few existing gay rights. I am troubled by it when I hear some people say that the struggle for gay rights in America will never end, that it’s easier to leave things the way they are.
As Americans, we cannot leave things the way they are. I believe that gays deserve the right to love whoever they want, with the same rights as anyone else living under this country’s jurisdiction.
American law dictates that my mother and stepfather can marry and have children in whatever fashion they choose. If my father wants these same rights with the person he loves, it should not be any more difficult. I believe that a person is a person, no matter how he chooses to live his life or with whom he chooses to live it. My dad can no more choose what sex he is attracted to than I can decide how many eyes are on my face.
I believe in our country, and I believe that we must turn back to Jefferson’s declarations from 1776 to bring about true equality. The American people must stand together and rebuild a place in which no one is left out of the law. This I believe.
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