Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The World We Live In

Jeanne Cantwell

Growing up in a loving family in the United States is something that I will never take for granted. As a child I had the innocent thought that everyone was this fortunate, but as I got older I began to realize that wasn't the case. I have a twin brother, Jim, who is my best friend. We have always been close, and supported each other in every aspect of our lives. When we were sixteen he came out to me as being gay. Growing up with Jim I always wondered if that was a possibility, but waited until he was comfortable enough to tell me and our family. We grew up in a primarily white suburban neighborhood in Ohio, yet he was still nervous how people at our high school would accept him. He had every right to be nervous, but mainly everyone was very accepting and didn't treat him any differently. Five years later he has felt more comfortable each day being himself.

For the past two summers my family and I have attended the Human Rights Campaign Gala in Columbus, Ohio.
Me and Jim at the HRC Gala this Summer
This year we sat a table with two lesbian partners who my mom has worked with. One of the women approached Jim after the event and told him how lucky he was to be accepted and loved by his family. She hasn't been home to see her parents since she came out to them years ago, because they refused to accept that their daughter was gay. She still has a loving support system, but her parents are not a part of it.

This summer I was studying abroad and was away from home for over two months. I remember my mom sending me a message back in late June when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide! Sharing in the excitement with my family was a great moment.
Photo Courtesy of CNN.com
I had just returned from Amsterdam where I met an Australian couple who were on their way to get married in Glasgow because they weren't able to in Australia. It hit me that there was still a lot of places in the world that hadn't taken this step.

Reading these articles about Parvez Sharma's documentary has me reflecting on how fortunate we are to live in the US. The fact that he is still practicing a religion, Islam, that would not accept him and that he embarked on a Hajj (an obligation for Muslims). On top of all of that, he documented the journey knowing that being openly gay in Mecca could result in death. I can't even imagine the kind of bravery it takes to go on this journey. I can't wait to see the documentary!

Knowing that one day I hope to work and report in the entertainment industry it is interesting to compare the way that Hollywood views being gay. Many actors and actresses who are gay have had very successful careers and are advocates for gay rights. A list that includes people like Ian McKellen, Ellen Page, Neil Patrick Harris, Jim Parson, Matt Bomer, Jane Lynch, Jodie Foster and Ellen DeGeneres. Those names are just a few on a very long list.

There are still so many steps that need to be taken in America, and all over the world. One day when our generation has children or even grandchildren I hope that they will grow up in a world that doesn't think twice about people being gay. I hope it seems like such a foreign idea to them that being gay was once not accepted in society. I am so excited to being growing up in a time where these things are changing, and can't wait to see the progress that keeps happening all over the world.

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