Sometimes, I sit and think about the fact that gay marriage was legalized in all fifty states for only four years.

Four years.

Four years ago, before this law was put into place, gay and lesbian couples could get married in only a small number of states. In other ones, they could get a legal document stating that they were "life partners" but that, of course, wasn't recognized by most employers and insurance companies. Four years ago, when gay marriage was finally recognized in all fifty states, the LGBT+ community rejoiced; but, this happiness was short lived.

People began coming out of the woodwork, claiming that this the downfall of the United States. They became angry, enraged, at the fact that a minority that has been long discriminated against was getting some basic human rights. There was even the infamous Kim Davis, a government employee, who refused to issue a marriage license to a gay couple. She claimed religious discrimination and became somewhat of a martyr for the homophobic community, seeing the gay couple and the rest of the LGBT+ community as her oppressors. Thankfully, she lost her case and had to pay $225,000 in legal fees for the gay couple she discriminated against.

This little story brings me to my larger point: using terms like "religious freedom" and "difference of opinion" to make one's homophobia seem less severe.

People like to think that just because the gays got the right to marry, it means that they're protected from things like homophobia. They think that because the AIDS crisis is over, the gays are a happy and healthy bunch who have no fears what so ever. Which, in my humble opinion, is a load of absolute garbage.

LGBT youths are thrown out of their homes by their parents for being gay, lesbian, and transgender. 40% of the 1.6 million homeless youth in America identify themselves as a part of the LGBT community, which is absolutely alarming. It's no easier for LGBT adults either. We live in fear of having our rights taken away or infringed upon at any moment. We live in fear of being harassed or assaulted if we hold hands or are affectionate with our partners in public. We're afraid that we'll have a repeat of the Pulse nightclub shooting, turning out safe spaces into a space of terror.

Please, realize for once in your life that homophobia isn't simply a different opinion, it's straight up discrimination. Whenever I hear people say "I don't hate the gays! I just hate the sin!" still reads as "I hate gay people but I'm just saying this to make myself seem more tolerant than I really am." This also applies to straight women who claim to love gay men, but, allow their relatives, husbands, and boyfriends to toxic homophobic dribble whenever they feel like. If you were truly a dedicated ally, you would openly and angrily condemn their behavior and refuse to associate with them. But when you don't, and sit there and smile and say "well, that's just their opinion" you have become complacent in their hatred and discrimination towards the gay community.

Alright, so y'all can get mad at me, a gay man who's telling you truth of what it's like to be gay, or you can step back and reassess your own internalized homophobia and try and make a change in your life.

It'd be a lot cooler if you did.