Madden: I am not lucky because I can be openly gay

Joe Madden, Columnist

As a white male born in America to parents who could send me to a great university, I should begin this column by acknowledging that my luck cannot be overstated. I am lucky to have been born into the situation I was. I did not deserve it — at the least, I deserved it no more than those born into less fortunate circumstances.

So call me lucky. Call me lucky because I got into Northwestern. Call me lucky because I have good friends and a loving family.

But do not call me lucky, as so many have, because of my right to live as an openly gay man.

I understand that people before me have not had that right. I understand that many people still do not have that right.

The brave men and women who fought for me to have that right — at Stonewall, during the AIDS epidemic and against “don’t ask, don’t tell” — would not have wanted me to be called lucky. Just because generations upon generations of intersex people have been systematically oppressed across the globe and across centuries does not mean people today are lucky for not being as aggressively oppressed.

People in previous years were unlucky. They were unlucky beyond overstatement for being discriminated against for their sexuality — for what they could not and should not have had to change.

But, this is not a lucky time to be gay. All other times were just unlucky.

There is an important difference between the two. Luck implies I do not deserve what I have, that I have somehow won the lottery in being able to openly express attraction to whichever gender I am attracted.

Even for someone born to a family capable of loving me regardless of my sexual orientation, being raised in a society centered around male-female attraction has its challenges.

Up until 13 years ago, gay sex was illegal. Our country spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past two decades investigating whether or not it had any gay people brave enough to serve in our less-than-accepting military. Gay people only just recently won a right — the right to marry the ones they love — that everyone else has had for millennia.

That is the crux of my argument: Straight people have always had these rights and just because gay people were always deprived of them does not mean they do not deserve them. They have some of these rights today, not out of luck, but because of their own hard work.

In short, gay people deserve the same acceptance straight people have. They are not lucky to have it.

Joseph Madden is a Weinberg freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.