Thursday, June 16, 2016

If you think we have a long way to go with acceptance of diversity...

If you are an ally, you must be an active ally and truly combat homophobia and transphobia when you see it.
-from an Open Letter to Straight People on the Pulse Massacre 

This one was a tough one for me to form words about. It's not something I have personal experience with. I am a straight, white woman. While being a woman is not always a cinch, in no way, shape or form have I experienced the struggle that comes with being a real minority in this country, mainly a member of the LGBTQ community. Because I don't know the struggle, I had to reach out to those in my life who have known the struggle, who still do know the struggle. For them, the shooting in Orlando was more than just another mass shooting, this was an attack on their community as a whole, one that no doubt shook them to their core. To seek out people, with the intent to kill them, because of who they choose to love, well, that's a mother f&*%ing hate crime, people, no matter who is pulling the trigger. So if we are still in a society that harbors hatred for specific groups of people, you know we still have got some major problems with acceptance of diversity, no matter what shape, size color or sexual orientation that diversity comes in. I asked some friends of mine who I will label as lesbians just to get that out there... but they are more than just members of the LGBTQ community, they are parents, runners, teachers, travelers, designers, music lovers and the list goes on. There are so many things that can define people that I hate to name just one thing but for the purpose of this piece, I asked them what they would like to see change whether it be in regard to acceptance or legislation or just stuff in their every day lives... and I'm going to straight up quote them here. You want action items? It's all in the way that you act, teach your children to act and call out those who are acting unfairly. Here you go:

On raising a family as a lesbian couple:

"I would love to walk down the street with our two babies in tow and hold my wife's hand without fear or thinking that someone is judging us or our family. I worry about our kids and any bullying they may face because their family is 'different.'"  

"I'm tired of people judging me and my family. I'm confused by their train of thought. They say I'm damaging my children and theirs by subjecting them to this lifestyle. How does their hatred and violence make this world a better place? I'm angry because my children have to see this hate. I'm angry because it's not getting better. One day when my kids are no longer my innocent babies I'll have to explain these people to them. I'll have to remind them that we are part of the good in this world and love is far more powerful than hate."

I live in a state where this is more "accepted/embraced" but this is not how it is in the vast majority of our country. That's a problem.

And on not raising a family as a lesbian couple:

"But you're two women, one of you must want to have kids." Some people, straight or gay do not want to have kids. We should all stop judging that one.

Things you shouldn't say:

"I would like people (that I do not know on a friend level) to stop asking, "Who the mother is?!" We both are, asshole! Also, the questions about how I got pregnant and did we use a turkey baster and did we know the donor... Seriously?!" 

 "Any question regarding how I have sex." If you wouldn't ask a straight person, why would you ask a member of the LGBTQ community; out of curiosity? Yeah, no. And if you would ask a straight person, you're a perv.

"When did you know you were gay?" This is a deeply personal question and I've been asked this by people who literally just met me 5 minutes ago.  Just don't say it, people. Common sense.

Sexism exists toward the LGBTQ community:

From less offensive-->  "You're so lucky to be a lesbian! With two women it must be like communication heaven! No nagging wife/forgetful husband dynamics. Plus you can watch chick-flicks ALL THE TIME!"

To pretty offensive--> "I would love if I never again in my life have to hear a man say "Oh you're gay.  That's cool, I have no problem with that.  I mean, actually, I love lesbians," while a gross sly smile crosses his face.  Because my sexuality is not for male consumption."

The assumptions on being gay and the understanding of a person's background:

"Then there are the people who say I chose to be gay. Yes, obviously I was looking for attention so I thought being gay would be great for me. Clearly, hiding who I was for years really drew a lot of that attention I was seeking." 

"I want people to recognize that no two members of the LGBT+ community have the same back story, pains, wants, and dreams in life.  Yes, we are all one community, but no one person speaks for us all.  If a member of the community in your life expresses a view to you, accept it as theirs, but don't assume it is therefore the viewpoint of us all.  I think the one and only thing that all LGBT+ people have in common is the desire to be loved and accepted."

Our vote matters on this issue as well:

"I want to see an end to the passing of laws in our states that still allow discrimination against us.  I want people to be paying attention to the introduction of these bills, and if they don't align with their beliefs, to use their vote to remove these hateful people from our government."

"People assuming we "won" after DOMA was repealed last year. In reality, our country is just a patchwork of varying legislation on issues such as: adoption, transgender healthcare, employment, housing, public accommodations, school non-discrimination, anti-bullying, etc. In more than half of our states, LGBTQ people are not protected in regards to any of these items."  

Continue to talk about these issues, equal rights and tell your state representatives about it, too. When you see injustice, you say something. Just be like "the Boss" when he canceled his concert in NC due to the Transgender Bathroom Bill. Take a stand.

On religion:

"I wish people would stop hand-waving away their casual homophobia/prejudice in the name of their religion.  I want the concept of "Hate the sin, love the sinner" to be launched into the sun, to be perfectly honest.  I'm not personally religious, but I 100% believe in people believing in whatever faith they want, and being as open about that as they want, but not when it comes with a nice side of prejudice.  I think it is more important than ever now for people to stand up and say "This is NOT how I want my faith practiced, this is NOT what I want my religion to stand for."  Because for me, if a person says they are a supporter of the LGBT+ community, or that they love a member of that community, but they sit silently while the pastor/priest/clergy delivers a sermon on the evils of gayness, and they stay silent while members of the government spew hateful rhetoric and introduce hateful bills in the name of their religion, well, they really aren't much of a supporter.  I want people of faith who believe in inclusivity to let their voices be heard, to stop letting the voices of hate talk over them."

Here's where I take this very well thought out point and add that I am a believer in God but what I do not support is the use of God and God's "word" to attack entire groups of people. My God allowed love to exist in all it's forms. Why would he allow such love but also condemn it? It doesn't seem logical to me. So while I know this is a problem, it's up to those that do have faith to let our friends in the LGBTQ community know that they are loved and not everyone has hate in their heart. We don't just "tolerate", we LOVE and ACCEPT who they are with no stipulations on that love and acceptance.

I will end this with another quote from a friend because she was all too eloquent when stating her opinions on the subject. I want to continue this conversation because the tragic events in Orlando weren't about just one thing, but many. The Latino and LGBTQ community need our love, support, and "fight" right now. If you feel strongly, like with anything else, take some action:

"I want people to know their silence is deafening. But also, and this part is tricky, while I want allies to speak up, be heard in their support, I don't want it to be at the expense of our own voices.  And what I mean by that is, yes, please please please speak up, but please don't hush the LGBT+ community in order to do it.  I believe that regarding all minorities.  Own voices are always most needed, and the best thing an ally can do is highlight those voices.

Keep doing what you're doing, keep speaking up for all the issues and injustices that are important to you, because it means something to a lot of people.  Whether it's us, or a fellow parent afraid of sending their child to school because of gun violence, or the parents of little boys who don't want their sons growing up in a world clouded by toxic masculinity, or daughters having to deal with rape culture and misogyny.  Whatever it is, keep doing it.  Voices matter.  Your voice matters."

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