Merle Miller’s landmark essay "What It Means to Be a Homosexual" first appeared in the New York Times Magazine in 1971, as we noted recently. But Dan Savage's foreword to the new Penguin Classics edition of the essay, On Being Different, is worth an excerpt all on its own:
Writing in 1971—when homosexuality was still a crime in a majority of states—Miller observed, "I think social attitudes will change, are changing, quickly, too." When I came out in 1981, telling my Catholic parents I was gay meant I would never marry, never have children, and that I would certainly never be trusted alone with someone else’s child.
But there I was, just four short decades after Miller wrote On Being Different, just three short decades after I sat down with my mother and forced the words "I’m gay" out of my mouth. There I was, sitting on a beach next to my husband, while our teenage son dove through waves with his friends, two boys who were entrusted to our care by their straight parents. … [N]ot once in all the time since we became parents has a straight parent expressed to us the slightest anxiety about his or her son or daughter spending time with D.J., or with us, or with our gay and lesbian friends, despite the best efforts of "Christian" conservatives to prop up the old bigotries and fears.
In the battle between reality and fundamentalism of all varieties, reality always wins – if it is given the freedom to breathe and we show the courage necessary to accept it. Even then it takes time. But when a truth has been suppressed by a massive lie for centuries, its eventual emergence is almost a miracle.