I am a gay Harvard senior. I am thankful for every piece of that sentence: for my sexuality that often brightens my world, for my school that has changed me, and for my education that I take with me as I aspire to change—to make brighter—the world I am about to enter.
When I arrived home to Arizona for Thanksgiving, I arrived home for the first time with the right to marry a man. I want to say that I couldn't be happier, but I know that I could.
Marriage equality has dominated the national conversation about justice for the LGBTQ community. The recent rulings on marriage are worthy of our attention, as a Supreme Court decision now seems more likely than ever. I wanted to spend Thanksgiving feeling thankful for marriage equality in 35 states, and for a nationwide ruling to come, but I can't help myself from needing more.
At my university, many students agree that marriage, at best, is an intermediate goal in the path towards justice for the LGBTQ community. We are in agreement despite coming to Harvard with diverse stories. We are from countries all over the world, from every socioeconomic status and racial background, and from various points along the spectrums of gender and sexuality.
And we come with voices—voices to share these stories at a volume that might reach ears that hear only about marriage, marriage, and marriage. And we are using theses voices. Together with Kyle McFadden, a photographer and fellow student, I created a photo project that contains portraits of Harvard students who share their stories and opinions about the ways in which the LGBTQ Movement is a work in progress, even as nationwide marriage equality is on the horizon. Our movement is In the Making.
I can be fired for my "lifestyle choice." No girl is too pretty to be lesbian. My identity is not a sin. Brown and gay, but no less a person. These are only four of the dozens of statements written by my peers on the red-framed chalkboard in the photographs. Together, the photographs paint a portrait of a movement still unfinished, touching upon themes such as legal rights, harmful stereotypes, religious intolerance, and the intersection of race and ethnicity with gender and sexuality.
Although these portraits feature Harvard students, this project is not about Harvard. Our stories and opinions are not unique, but rather shared by members of the LGBTQ community across the United States and world. This project is about the girl whose friends and family ruthlessly doubt that she is attracted to both men and women. It is about the boy whose small, homophobic town makes him want to get out.
This project is about those transgender individuals whose genders have cost them their jobs, friends, and families—their livelihoods, their lives. It is about the child whose parents and church collectively pray that he will one day wake up "normal."
This project is about the youth who can't express themselves at school without fearing ridicule and violence. It is about the queer and trans people of color whose lives are lost behind bars or by the shots of guns.
But more than anything, this project is about you. On our Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, we are sharing not only these portraits, but also photographs taken by LGBTQ people and our allies around the world. LGBTQ student groups, community centers, and individuals on their own, both LGBTQ people and allies, are beginning to accept the #inthemaking challenge by sharing their own photos to highlight additional issues or declare their support.
Whether LGBTQ or ally, accept our challenge by sharing your own photo on social media, and please take a look at our fundraising webpage, where we are working to support three LGBTQ nonprofits. Actively addressing some of the issues highlighted in our series of photographs, these organizations are Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, National LGBTQ Task Force, and Sylvia Rivera Law Project.
We're not done here—it's the line I wrote on the chalkboard in my portrait, and I think it captures the moment in which we find ourselves in the LGBTQ Movement. We have accomplished so much—so many reasons to be thankful—but there is still so much we need.