I've seen the future of gay, and it's a beautiful and amazing thing.
Actually, at the outset, let me correct myself. It isn't gay at all. Or lesbian. Or bisexual, for that matter. It has no label. It needs no label to define it or categorize it–to allow others to put it in this box or that one, so they feel more comfortable with it. Rather, it's two people who love each other, regardless of gender. It's the future of love.
As a fifty-something gay man, who's seen his struggles in a heterosexual world, it's easy for me to think the way I've known gay to be most of my life will remain the same for all gay people, regardless of the year or even decade. And I could use that excuse to continue blabbing on about the same damn thing, over and over again, thinking my words reflect what's going on today. But that would be a mistake.
The world is a very different place now–or at least parts of it are–from what it was in the 1970s and '80s, and I have no reason to believe circumstances won't continue to evolve and improve for gay people. So it's important to remain current in thought and to ensure my writing reflects that in some respect.
To this end, let me tell you what gave me a glimpse into what I believe the future of love looks like.
For several weeks recently, I corresponded with a twenty-year-old, African-American student, who shared intimate details of his life. What I learned gave me so much hope for young, gay people like him, and those who are coming up, even in a country where same-sex marriage is currently legal in only a handful of states. I won't make you privy to the personal details he shared, but I will show you what love looks like for this young man, and many of his friends, who it would be incorrect to put any label on.
For them, sexual orientation is less of an issue than it's ever been. They don't appear to be as hung up on who loves who as has been the case in the past. There's almost a fluidity to their love, where, today, a young man may find himself drawn to someone of the opposite sex, and, tomorrow, he may find himself equally drawn to someone of the same sex. To him, either situation feels not only natural but acceptable. The fact he's attracted to one or the other is utterly irrelevant–rather, it's simply a question of who he feels more connected to at any given time.
Of course, there will always be those who are exclusively attracted to the same sex (me included). And, chances are, they're open to their friends about that, their friends supporting them one hundred percent and vice versa. To young people, same-sex attraction doesn't appear to have the same stigma it used to. They don't see two men or two women together; instead, they see two human beings together. It's not the genders of the people that matter so much as the feelings they share between them.
Unfortunately, a dark cloud continues to hang over these young people, exerting a negative influence, and, from time to time, leading them to believe what they're doing is wrong: older people, usually their parents. Their parents were raised to believe love looks only one way, and any other appearance of it is unacceptable. On their own, these young people eagerly celebrate love in whatever form it takes. But, still very much under the influence of their parents, whose love they need and count on, and affected by unnecessary labels, they sometimes find themselves confused between what feels right and what others think. They are not yet able to separate needing approval and being who they innately are.
At some point in the not-so-distant future, these older people, and their old world ideals, will cease to exist. And, when that happens, today's young people will feel free to love whomever they choose, no longer needing their parents for validation, approval, or love. To take that one step further, when those young people become parents themselves, their attitudes toward love will be very different from those of their parents, and, for them, whatever form love takes for their children will be normal. It will make no difference to them whether their son or daughter comes home with a young man or young woman. All they will hope for is that their children find love and are happy.
That's the way things should be. That's the way they should have been all along.