I used to laugh at the gay jokes. In fact, I used to tell them. I laughed in high school when the jock toughs proudly showed up at school with black eyes — they had gone gay bashing at the local bar. That’s how it was in Manchester, New Hampshire in the 1970s. That’s how it still is in a lot of places.
I got married. To a woman. I liked women. If I were coming of age now, I might identify as the “B” in LGBT. Maybe not. I liked men more. Still do. I’ve been with my partner Jimmy for 26 years. We have two beautiful girls. We’re not married, but we’re talking about it. Especially after today.
You see, I took the step, back in the late eighties, that every non-closeted LGBT person must take. I came out of the closet. I lost a few friends. My mother cried. I went into therapy. Being Jewish, the Christian stuff didn’t bother me. But being a fag did. I slowly came to terms with it. Living in San Francisco helped.
“Equal Justice Under Law” says the engraving on the front of the Supreme Court . Today is a great day. May God bless the Supreme Court. May God bless America.
I’m a market researcher by trade and I do a lot of work in the LGBT segment. I wrote a book subtitled “Marketing to Race, Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation” in 2009. Including the last part seemed like a risky move at the time. It meant outing myself to the world. I did, but in coded form. With a wink. That was then.
For years, companies have been asking me about how to approach the LGBT market. Should we do it? Don’t we risk alienating the mainstream? My answer has always been, “Do it, but do it with your eyes open. You will alienate some people. But you’ll win over many more.”
Today, on this monumental day, I am changing my mind. I’m stealing Nike’s tagline. Just Do It!
Do it because it is the right thing to do.
Do it because the 17 million or so LGBT adults in the United States will demand that you do it.
Do it because for an entire generation of young Americans, there is nothing wrong with it.
Do it because those who will oppose you are becoming increasingly irrelevant to mainstream opinion.
It used to be that being gay was about sex. If you were a man, you were a sodomist, a sinner. And by posting this, I’ll get a lot of comments saying that this is still true. I won’t respond. Because you are wrong.
Today, our nation’s highest court has affirmed that as gays, we are entitled to the same rights as all Americans. The right to love whomever we choose. The right to raise our kids without our state telling us we’re doing wrong. The right to pursue happiness.
Marketers, take note. The days of sitting on the fence are over. For we will be saying “Support us, or we will not support you.”
Those companies that took a risk and supported the gay community before it was kosher made the right move. They will be remembered and embraced by LGBT folks. Those of you on the fence, now is the time to embrace the opportunity. Take a stand.
As for me, I will go home and celebrate with my gay family tonight. For I now know that I will be raising my girls in a country that truly supports family values. Oh, I know the sneers won’t stop overnight. But as a nation, we took a giant leap forward today. America, I am proud of you.