A great column on Religion Dispatches about how the struggle for gay rights is at root a struggle to prove that our subjective sense of identity is authentic, because many of our opponents simply don't think that we exist. Key excerpts:
When you think about it that way it’s outrageous. I’m being forced to defend my subjective self-understanding to people who not only don’t share it, but who don’t even read objective books about it! I stand on the opposite sides of picket lines with people who deny that I am right about my own mind. They insist that millions of people are so deeply deluded about themselves that their own testimony must be disregarded.
Which is to say: I experience myself as fully human. You, if you are listening to me, must hear and see that I am a human being. Yet our society denies my humanity, insists that while I am something close to a man, I am not quite one.
What I feel like we are still fighting for, in the places where our freedom is still contested, is neither rights nor freedoms nor any particular bundle of privileges, but some more fundamental, and fundamentally religious, human right that has only begun to be articulated: the right to self-definition, to say that I exist—and to be believed.