By Daniel Zarchy
Co-Editor in Chief
This summer I had the wonderful, albeit unexpected, honor of serving as best man in my brother’s wedding. Today, his marriage hangs in a state of legal jeopardy. My brother’s new husband, the man of his dreams, has become a fully adopted member of my family.
Still, the changes were not immediate. My brother’s coming out forced my family to confront our own prejudices and inbred homophobia, and in turn, we found that we loved him more than we were homophobic. In my own community at the time, middle school, cries of “that’s so gay” were rampant, and I thought nothing of them. My brother forced me to consider such comments, and how damaging they could be.
I know my brother better than anyone in the world, and his homosexuality is the smallest part of his personality. Today, we can see that he has found the love of his life, and my parents fully embrace and celebrate their relationship and all it has brought them.
But even we must recognize the bubble that we are in. Accepting my brother’s homosexuality has not been easy, especially for some members of my extended family in other states. My grandmother, matriarch of the family that she is, worried that my brother would have a harder life as a gay man, and it took countless hours of effort from my aunt, a school counselor, to help our other cousins begin to accept him.
Though this is a depressing and all-too-common occurrence, time and love are the best ways to overcome prejudice and bigotry, and in many families it’s much worse. Now, though at times our visits with our extended family can still be a bit awkward, first and foremost we are a loving family.
The proper stage for the gay marriage discussion is in the family, and with an atmosphere of mutual respect and love. All too many families shun their gay children, disown them, or refuse to accept that they may be “different,” so we appreciate that our family has not chosen this path.
The attack ads from the Proposition 8 campaign targeted these same fears. They assaulted our state’s schools, saying that homosexuality and gay marriage would be “taught in school.”
Though this was the “fear” that so many sought to bring about through the ads, I see it from the opposite perspective. Homosexuality should be taught about in school, just like heterosexuality, before students grow up to share the prejudice of their parents.
My family, as I have come to appreciate all the more, is an oasis of acceptance in the greater homophobic desert. They are up in arms about Proposition 8, in some ways more than my brother is, and are already vowing to do what they can to bring it down.
Our country is moving, albeit at an infuriatingly slow pace, toward acceptance as more open-minded young people begin to vote. Still, there is so much we can do now, talking to our parents and friends about what is important to us.
My parents recently reached their 30th wedding anniversary, and have been an amazing influence on me and my brother about the picture of a family: an affectionate, accepting, caring home. Love is love, and a home is a home, no matter who the people are.