Marina Gomberg: For LGBTQ folks, the work remains, but time is on our side

The pendulum is swinging away from acceptance, but it will always come back, our columnist says.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Marina Gomberg.

I like that we refer to causes for justice as “movements.” I picture them like the weight at the end of a pendulum — in a state of perpetual motion that’s not always linear.

Sometimes we’re moving in the right direction with great momentum. Sometimes that progress slows. Stops. And reverses.

The swings calm as we find equilibrium, though I don’t know that any cause has come to a complete stop. Sir Isaac Newton probably could have called that one.

This is true of the LGBTQ movement — the one aimed at ensuring every body, no matter who they love or how they present gender, belongs and are treated with respect and dignity. That movement is still in full swing.

The highs have felt like that moment on Lagoon’s Tide Wave ride when the bliss of weightlessness makes you feel like you’re flying. The rollers below the massive ship fight gravity and win.

But with nearly every victory comes a backswing. A backlash.

Those whose sensibilities are challenged by things that are different or things they perceive will challenge their authority won’t let our momentum swing us full circle. Oh, no. They grab on tight, white-knuckled, to pull us back down.

I feel their drag — and it’s not the good or fun kind.

We have worked stalwartly to protect and celebrate members of the LGBTQ community since the Stonewall riots in 1969, and we’ve gained a lot of ground. We can legally marry, adopt, and serve in the military openly — and we have a patchwork of protections from discrimination in housing, schools and work.

And yet, our gathering places and people are still targeted by deadly violence, we are still being denied critical and lifesaving health care, discussions of our existence have been banned in some states’ public schools, we can be fired or evicted in some states just for who we are or who we love, we can be refused access to public accommodations like stores and restaurants, we can be excluded from athletics and some of us can’t even access a restroom when we need one.

The Human Rights Campaign reports that more than 400 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in legislatures across the nation this year alone. And the main targets are our transgender and nonbinary siblings and friends.

Those hanging on to resist the momentum of our proud pendulum are now attaching concrete blocks to their feet. Their numbers are dwindling, so their efforts are doubling. And it ain’t pretty.

Their crosshairs are locked on our most historically excluded and vulnerable, including our kiddos.

But their desperation is warranted, because they know they’re fighting a losing battle. If being on the wrong side of history weren’t enough, they’re seeing the generational shift that will seal their fate. The diminishing faction of those who feel threatened by, instead of proud of, LGBTQ people, despite their current political pull, are an endangered species. The few will try and keep from going extinct.

As the pendulum swings toward their discriminatory and violent end, we don’t have to scramble, because time and love are on our side — not to mention the indefatigable agents of change in every family, community and state.

It’s a fraught moment and a pivotal one.

And it’s why it matters that we come out, we show up and we continually remind ourselves and the world of our beautiful humanity.

See you at the Utah Pride Festival? Let’s go.

Marina Gomberg is a professional communicator, a practicing optimist and a lover of love. She lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, their son, Harvey, and their dogs, Mr. Noodle and Gorgonzola. You can reach Marina at mgomberg@sltrib.com.

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