Young people today are more accepting of equal rights for LGBT people than ever. As we move forward in history, it seems like we’re finally on the road to complete acceptance and equality for all. The younger generations are being brought up in a time when being who you are—regardless of gender identification, race, sexual orientation, or any other factors—is to be encouraged and embraced.
But we weren’t always so close to achieving equality as we are now; senior citizens today grew up in a time when being gay was something to be shunned and hidden away at all costs. Homosexuality was something to fear, not something to accept.
And as we inch closer to the election time, we also consider the states that are voting on same-sex marriage—Washington, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota. Senior citizens represent a large group of voters, and their support is vital in states like Minnesota where the race is a close one.
It’s especially encouraging to see seniors reaching out to other seniors on this issue. In Minnesota, seniors like Louise Pardee, 81, are calling up fellow seniors to converse about same-sex marriage. The conversations often center on religious concerns and personal experiences. Volunteers are encouraged to talk openly about family and friends who are gay, and to encourage the “Golden Rule” in others—to treat others the way they want to be treated.
It can be a tough job, especially when people don’t want to talk about LGBT people at all because it makes them uncomfortable. Sometimes, in those cases, volunteers might try to talk more about the logistic side of the law. Joe Nyquist, 83, for example, says he switches to discussing the state constitution.
“We already have a law that prevents them from getting married. I don’t like to put something like that in the constitution, which is usually used to protect people.” Nyquist also has a son, who is gay and has been with his partner for nearly twenty years—a story he often shares with those he calls.
As time goes on, equality and acceptance of LGBT people in future generations will organically gain more support. But now, in a time when we are still fighting to be heard, we’ve got to reach out to the generations of the past.