Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fighting Your Own Battles: How The War On LGBT Equality Is Being Fought In Real Life

I read a book on business management a few days ago that was written in 1995. I was surprised there was a chapter on Equal Opportunity Employment. I was anxious to find out what kind of rules were in place for LGBT people 20+ years ago. It was not mentioned. What was mentioned, was a tiny paragraph on coping with coworker who had AIDS. The infected were not mentioned as a protected class of people in the workforce. 

I fast forward to today where there are far more rights for LGBT people and the reality of AIDS and HIV are more widely known. But its not over. We aren't equal, we aren't respected and tolerated. However, it is far better received then 20 years ago. Thanks to activism and courageous people who stood up. 

Our battle is far from over though. The war on LGBT people isn't being fought on large scale battlegrounds anymore. The days of Stonewall are over, thank God. But now we have individual fronts. 

Men and women are being confronted privately on spiritual, emotional, and often physical fronts. The pain that stems from being told "its OK to be gay, so long as you act normal" is just as psychologically damaging and hard to cope with as being told "if you believe, God will remove this curse from your life".

Its in these situations, which are rarely done publically, that we face our bloodiest battles. These moments are often created by those that we trust the most. Faith leaders, politicians, managers, Parents, peers, and coworkers. Which makes it even more difficult to trust new people. It makes it even more difficult to believe those that DO love us because most of us have been betrayed by those that were closest to us. 

Our battles are being fought alone and in private in an attempt to keep their intolerance secret and their shame hidden. I face it too. Your not alone. 

If you feel like someone is hating you or passively being bigoted, call them on it. Don't be afraid. They are passive about it because they KNOW they're wrong. Otherwise they wouldn't try to hide it. 

Tell anyone who will listen that you are NOT ashamed. You are proud of who you are and you won't allow anyone to make you feel anything else other then self-love. Tell them God loves you and that's that. You don't care what they have to say about it. Or whoever you believe your creator is, don't let ANYONE tell you your less then, to submit to or change for them. Be proud of your differences. If your 'flamboyant' then be proud of it. If your bisexual or transitioning into your correct gender, BE PROUD!! 

Find a support system and then lean on them. Be there when they need you too. We are ALL being isolated and the best defense against isolation is to reach out for those who are facing the same ugliness.

With Love
Jeff Utnage

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