Over the weekend, I was talking with a few folks about the recent election. (Surprise, surprise!) One of the guys I spoke with was particularly disheartened by the number of antigay initiatives that passed in other states. He wondered, “What's next? Where do we go from here?”
Well, first, we celebrate. Sure, there may have been some setbacks across the country, but here in North Carolina we have every right to be optimistic. Not only did a slew of LGBT-positive candidates get elected, but several antigay candidates and officials in the state lost.
We can go into next year knowing we have more allies in place and expect a more moderate, perhaps even progressive statewide government. This is particularly good news for our big antibullying initiative.
All of ENC PAC's Senate candidates won, including the embattled and openly-gay Senator Julia Boseman. Most of the endorsed representatives and judges were selected, and LGBT allies made some amazing advancements in the executive branch.
Even at the national level, a number of noteworthy homophobes are now out, and Barack Obama is the most pro-equality president ever elected. His message of inclusivity and equality bodes well for us all.
Of course, after celebrating we should also mourn. The loss of marriage equality in California was particularly bittersweet, as were the antigay state constitutional amendments passed in Florida, Arizona, and Arkansas.
Here in North Carolina, I was particularly saddened at Judge John Arrowood's loss – he was the first openly-gay judge at the state level in our judiciary. Having an out person in such a prestigious position was a great boon for our community, and John's loss diminishes the visibility of gay folks in the state.
Finally, though, we plan our future moves and start back working again. Every civil rights battle is filled with two steps forward and one step back (and we should all be glad we got that instead of the converse of one step forward and two steps back, which also tends to happen).
Every loss is an opportunity for more discussion. The more visibility our issues have and the more dialog we generate, the better we'll all be.
We have some great chances now to develop coalitions with our allies and teach people how gay issues are essentially issues of fairness, which affect everyone. If everyone's not equal then no one is equal.
Where do we go from here? Simple: We go forward.-Shawn Long