Here in the 21st-century United States, gays and lesbians enjoy a higher societal profile than ever before--from widespread public debate over gay marriage to prime-time television flavor du jour. Not all of the attention is flattering, much less fond, but as more and more gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered are able to live their lives openly, it becomes harder and harder for even the most die-hard homophobes to deny the simple fact that they exist and will continue to; that they are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, co-workers, neighbors, not strangers; that any differences between gay and straight are outnumbered by similarities. Get used to it.
One hundred years ago in this country women weren't allowed to vote, and a mere 50 years ago blacks couldn't share public facilities with whites without either the threat of violence or a court order or both. It's hard to imagine that 50, 100 years from now, in this country, gays and lesbians will still live their lives on someone else's terms. Progress may be slow, but right now there seems to be no going back to the way things have been.
In this issue of City Paper, we take a look at the state of things in Maryland at this pivotal moment. Van Smith charts the progress of gay rights in the Land of Pleasant Living from the days of common law to the current legislative gridlock. Anna Ditkoff spends quality time with a group of gay parents who have the same worries as any other parents--plus a few more most other parents never imagine. Comparing the civil-rights movement to the gay-rights movement seems like a no-brainer, but Waris Banks urges that you think before you do it. And Richard Gorelick (and professor Richard Florida) argues that Baltimore needs a visible gay and lesbian community.
As an added bonus, we unveil a sneak-peek guide to Pride 2004, which takes place June 19-20. And remember, you don't need to be queer to show pride. Just show up.
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