We are influenced by the city we live in, our climate, our friends/family/workplace, our president elect, the governmental policies and the extremes in our culture that surround us. If we look back at the social movements that took hold and really changed the ways in which we live in the world, we can see that many of them come from drastic and terrifying times.
Movements happen when it becomes impossible to sit on the fence any longer. We are inside one of these pieces of history right now, just as we were when PRIDE came into existence. We have PRIDE because it simply wasn’t possible to sit still and take the bigotry. And after years of gradually stepping forward, today there is no comfort for those who watch what is happening. There is no slow movement forward. We have gone backwards, like we hit a brick wall at 60 mph and are now recoiling.
Too many of us in the queer community have had family who voted for the man in orange. People we love that say that they support us as individuals; that they really don’t have anything against the LGBT community. They only wanted change, someone who puts America first. Someone who isn’t a politician. They say it had nothing to do with denying civil rights. It had nothing to do with us at all…
The pain I have experienced over this within the queer community is extreme. One out lesbian couple that my husband and I are close to found out that their own children voted for a government that does not respect their rights. The agony they faced when they held themselves responsible for not wanting to be “in their faces” about their lifestyle and their struggles was tremendous and infuriating to them. They assumed that the people they love just “got it”. They never educated them on the history, the fear and the lack of dignity they experienced throughout their lives. The people who knew them, didn’t grasp that making a simple political choice would affect the human rights of so many individuals. We all assumed it was just common sense.
I remember, less than 15 years ago in Colorado, showing concern for my friend and his boyfriend walking down the street being affectionate towards one another. I hated myself for stopping them from showing their love. I was afraid for their safety, but understood that things would never change if people hid because of that fear. My response to them was against everything I stand for. My mentality did not influence progression. It wasn’t that long ago that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was the closest thing to acceptance that was available, and it created the mentality that we will accept you as long as we don’t have to think about who you are. Chew on that for a moment. Then come back to today; our government is attempting to make it “normal” and “acceptable” to be prejudiced and intolerant of people’s differences. Our country’s leaders have stated that discrimination is a civil right and included in religious freedom. And that they will stand up for the right to discriminate at all costs. This is terrifying. The moment I saw that this administration had made this a concrete stance, I realized that they just started a civil war.
As the people who don’t fit into the “social norm”, the ones who have been forgotten, pushed aside, stepped on and persecuted for simply being who they are, we have seen movements forward that bring us hope. We have seen that there have been people, even presidents and attorney generals that want to support us. People who refuse to vilify us. It had made us comfortable with the pending changes. These steps forward have brought us a peace of mind that eventually we would ALL have a voice and we would ALL be heard. We could see a light at the end of a very long tunnel. Yet no-one and I mean NO-ONE expected to be where we are at now.
And where we are now has established an uprising. They didn’t realize that by pushing harder to hold us down we would fight that much harder to get up. That treading lightly with our lifestyles is no longer an option. That now that we have seen the light ahead, it isn’t possible to go back into the dark. They didn’t realize that we have tasted equality and will now do ANYTHING to save it. And the scales have tipped with our allies that had always figured we could fight our own battle and thought being accepting is all that mattered to show their support. They have figured out that in-action is allowing bigotry. We are ready to stand strong, we are ready to fight. It is time for our allies to stand with us. We have an army. And we are recruiting every day. We are bigger and more powerful than them. We are the influence and we are changing the world, faster and more directly than we ever have before. We were a peaceful people and they made us warriors. We won’t stand down, we won’t be quiet and we will change the world into an inclusive place for all people. ALL people. It’s a revolution.
Many want to fight, but not everyone is capable of being on the front line. Smart strategists use people’s assets to win the war. One thing everyone can do now is support and vote for those from marginalized communities. Fight for the long haul by putting people in power that will represent diversity. This works in conjunction with this immediate fight. Get involved with civil unrest. It’s important to be out, be strong, even when it puts you at risk. Surround yourself with influences who support your strength. Surround yourself with allies, build bridges with the people who you are afraid will turn you away. Tell your stories. Be out, be proud and find supporters that will have your back when you are. Be an influence in other people’s lives. Be an example of inclusion and acceptance. It is up to us what kind of example we want to be to the rest of the world. Influence from certainly not doubt. We will win this.
Don’t forget what PRIDE is truly about. Don’t forget what we have fought for, achieved and are at risk of losing again. Be the friend, the coworker, the neighbor who doesn’t leave room for bigotry. Be an activist in every interaction you have, changing hearts and minds without judgement for those who want to learn.
I utilize empathetic education for my transgender husband’s campaign running for Seattle City Council. Realizing that there is a lot of work to be done to get people to understand the importance of getting trans people in office. But he needs more than me. And so do all the other people standing up for all of us. We may not all be the one who can put their neck on the chopping block. Some of us, like Mac McGregor, can speak louder than others and the rest of us can have the backs of those who take the risks. Live the change you wish to see in the world and it will begin to reflect it back for everyone. Take action and join the revolution. Take PRIDE in our strength and unity. It is time topple the tower and build an inclusive and undivided society.
If you wish to donate to the Mac McGregor campaign for Seattle City Council, you may do so at votemacmcgregor.
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