Early last year, we took some friends to a Mardi Gras party/benefit for Long Island Gay & Lesbian Youth, a charity we support. The party was huge, and we all had a great time.
Two of the people we took were Jon and Michelle, a straight couple who are friends of ours. Of course, being friends of ours, they're comfortable with gay people, but their association with gay people was largely summed up with the two couples they knew, us and a lesbian couple. Beyond that, gay life was largely foreign to them, or so they thought. Jon, in particular, didn't come from a background that was robust in gay life. In his early days, he played for the Chicago Bears--not exactly a bastion of gayness!
Fast forward about 20 months to last night. We were at their house for drinks, and we got around to talking about Proposition 8, gay marriage and various related topics. They're very much in favor of gay rights and were appalled that Proposition 8 passed. Their feelings really weren't a surprise. What was more enlightening was Jon's comment that the night of the Mardi Gras party was when he had "an epiphany."
"We had just left and were sitting in the car when it struck me." He went on to explain that that's when he really felt it to his core, that gay people are just like anyone else. "We had spent a fun evening, sitting with several couples who were having fun, living their lives and dealing with all of the same things as anyone else." The other couples just happened to be gay.
That's what will win this battle. Yes, there's a fight to be fought, but what really will turn the tide in the long run--and it's already happening--is straight people getting to know more gay people and understand that we're just like them. We were made to be attracted to people of the same gender, but we're just people, just like anyone else.