A few days ago, I asked our next door neighbor, M., a question about her husband, P. I said, "P. seems to be pretty open about gay men. Is he really like that, or is it all just a big act?"
"I think before you and Chris moved in next door," M. answered, "P. didn't know what to think about gays. But since we've been neighbors, talked to each other over the fence, been over to each other's house, I think he's more accepting than he was before."
I smiled to myself. I've long thought attitudes toward gay people will change one person at a time, when straight people interact with gay people, sharing small, everyday experiences, seeing firsthand we're not so different from them. That's how acceptance is built, how the distance between different people is shortened.
It's also why all of us as gay people have a responsibility to ourselves, and to other gay people, to live exemplary lives and to set a good example. What you do today as a gay man or a lesbian woman will have an effect on how we, individually and as a community, are perceived in the future. When you have the chance, please be sure to play your part.