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April 29, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Bent

Yay marriage equality! Pretty sweet, huh? Damn those civil rights taste good. Looks like we’re done here.

Oh. Wait.

Queer women are still hugely under-represented in queer spaces. Queer teenagers are still significantly more likely to attempt suicide. Biphobia continues to exist. Trans* people still don’t have all the civil rights they are due, let alone equal treatment and recognition by society as a whole. Queer sex education in schools is still terrible or non-existent, having long-term negative effects on queer people’s physical and mental health. There is a striking lack of good representations of queer people and queer relationships in entertainment media. Queer people of colour are afforded much less airtime in the mainstream than white queer people. Queer people still endure awful bullying in schools and later on in the workplace. I’m still uncomfortable holding a partner’s hand walking down the street.

In short, there’s still a long way to go. Don’t get me wrong—marriage equality is a good thing, and it will certainly have a positive effect on the lives of a great many queer people, whether they want to marry or not, but by no means does it fix everything.

Marriage equality became the social justice cause du jour, and everyone, especially younger demographics, got on board with it. It’s an easy campaign to support because everyone’s aiming for the same thing, with a definite end-goal. The implicit danger though, is that it’s very easy to feel that the fight’s over now; in reality this was just one step on a longer path towards true equality.

Marriage equality was but one marker along the road we’re walking—a big, easily quantifiable marker, to be sure, but not the end point. The terrain gets a little trickier to navigate from here on in, with less obvious, less definite goals, but they are the ones that matter most.

So what happens now? There are still legislative and policy battles left, especially for trans* issues, but lots of things need to continue to happen on smaller scales. Queer groups in schools make an enormous difference to the lives of queer schoolkids, and we could certainly stand to have more schools with them. Bullying in schools, disproportionately affecting queer kids, is an issue that doesn’t receive nearly enough attention.

So celebrate marriage equality—that’s right and good. But we can’t stop now. National and global conversations about queer issues have never been more open and we should be seizing this opportunity for meaningful social change. Imagine how great it would be if sex ed had actually covered your sexuality properly? That’d be a good start.

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