The first descent: LGBTQ Americans less accepted

Minorities battle an indefinite amount of hate speech and abuse from the mouths of small-minded people on a daily basis. These words shatter their safety bubble with which they try to protect themselves from the outside world. Sometimes, it is the only protection they have in a world that disagrees about their legitimacy.

In a recent study conducted by GLAAD, published last week, support for LGBTQ people had declined. This is the first time since the study began four-years-go that this had happened, according to The New York Times. Why, for the first time, is progress going backward?

The rights for LGBTQ Americans have come a long way in recent years, including the overall legalization of gay marriage throughout the nation. These strides in the right direction can be linked back to an accepting leadership, a role model that gave those minorities a voice. During Barack Obama’s two-term presidency starting in 2008, almost a decade of progress was made in the LGBTQ community.

In 2011, when I came out as gay to my 8th grade classmates in a small town on Cape Cod, there was virtually no one for my younger self to look up to or compare myself to. At this point in time, the rights for LGBTQ Americans were beginning to be recognized and accepted. However, there was not much representation, especially in the media.

Currently, the atmosphere surrounding the LGBTQ community is more accepting and understanding and at the very least, tolerable. But now that there is a role model, in the highest place of office, who is lacking on backing up LGBTQ people, it makes sense why the support for this population is lacking. If someone who is constantly covered by the media doesn’t accept LGBTQ people, others will think it is okay to follow suit.

So, where do we go from here?

Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done about who holds the presidency. But together, as a unified community and nation, we can work toward educating others on accepting those who are different from us. Together, we can rewrite the wrong that has been done since the 2016 election and put the United States back on track to support its LGBTQ community.

Politicians, celebrities, public speakers, CEOs and other individuals who are in higher places of power can set examples for the rest of us. They are considered role models for many and people listen to what they have to say. If the majority of citizens began to talk about acceptance, then they will start to think about it too and understand it.

I want to see those role models that I dreamed about as a young gay boy; the ones I needed when I thought the world hated me. They are the ones that can change the current division in the country. They are the ones who can turn a spark into a blaze.