Each morning, during the pledge of allegiance, I stand but remain silent. I’m not the only one; in fact, almost everyone is silent, sitting down as soon as they get the chance. However, unlike many others at my high school, my silence is completely intentional. As homophobia remains a rampant issue in modern society, I refuse to pledge my allegiance to a country which ignores my rights as an American.
However, gays are not the only oppressed minority group in the country. To this day, racism, misogyny, anti-semitism, and various forms of xenophobia prove persistent, and while certain parts of the United States are more accepting than others, no place is completely free of hatred.
Discrimination has been so deeply ingrained in society that it has become a facet of human nature. The country itself was founded upon intolerance of Native Americans and intolerance of non-Puritans, and today, discrimination can be seen through white, heteronormative media trends or more clearly, through Westboro Baptist Church protests and government policies. Due to this long-term exposure of rejection, the concept of a perfectly accepting society in America is both idealistic and intangible.
This idea, however, should not deter the nation from striving for change. If history is to repeat itself, the gay rights movement will eventually bring about justice for the millions of those who are unable to legally marry those they love, just as the civil rights movement brought about the beginnings of change in the 1960’s.
But what will happen after the gay population is accepted by mainstream society? Will another minority group simply step up to the whipping post, ready to face the injustice of a country meant to protect them?
A stance must now be taken against hatred of all forms in America; the weed must be plucked from the root, disallowing its return. As the media’s focus rests on the gay rights movement, it must become a responsibility of LGBT activists to rally not only for their own liberation, but also for the advancement of all minorities who face injustice in America, whether it be social, political, or economic. Fighting today for social equality and integration is an investment to protect minorities of the future.
While such a movement seems ambitious and nearly impossible, its importance cannot be questioned. Before America can become a global hegemon, promoting democracy and liberty across the world (as they do now), it must first fully embrace the concepts of liberty and justice at home.
Frankly, the “land of the free” and “home of the brave” is neither free nor brave, as millions of minorities lack basic rights, and millions of majority Americans cannot face their prejudices regarding these minorities.
And each morning, the phrase, “…with liberty and justice for all”, rings over loudspeakers in every school across America, closing the pledge of the allegiance. Today, they ring as empty words. I personally will not pledge allegiance to my flag until my flag has pledged allegiance to change.