June is Pride Month, celebrating the LGBTel-em-el-oh-pee community past, present and future.
Writing on the subject is intimidating, because as someone who identifies with one of the letters in LGBT, the issues of equal rights feel raw, impassioned and profound. I am not an unbiased voice on the matter.
Growing up queer was almost indescribably difficult, and so much of who I am today was shaped by the negativity I experienced, not merely “often” – self-hate, fear and crippled self-esteem made it scary and gross for me every waking moment; thinking I needed to hide and obfuscate my unwanted inclinations meant that many of those I loved were kept from helping me, or even fully knowing me, which made for a special kind of awful loneliness.
In nearly every aspect of my life I see how I’m still "recovering" from being queer. For example: growing up, sports and physical fitness seemed like a test of manliness; I was so terrified of failing (which, I feared, would subsequently shine a light on my queerness) that exercise and playing outdoor games became something scary and intimidating, which in turn affected my fitness habits for life. It’s only in the last decade that I could drum up the courage to start exercising. This may sound ridiculous, but it really does cut that deep – that jogging around the block isn’t just something to get my heart-rate up, but something I’ve had to push myself to do in spite of a fear of being targeted for some form of ridicule. That’s just one example – there’s many more, equally pathetic and utterly unnecessary.
While I continue to heal and even prosper in the face of various such set-backs, certain scar tissue remains; yes, adversity has made me better in some ways, but self-improvement and evolution aren’t dependent on suffering, only happen in spite of it. I could’ve turned out as rad as I am because I was supported and respected, too!
Few things are as important to me right now as heterosexual people who are vocal and in favor of equal rights for LGBT people. I know many people who are "gay-friendly," or believe in equal rights, but only very few of them do anything that actively furthers the cause. Sure, they’ll vote in favor of marriage equality, but often by the time it’s time to vote, the battle has been won or lost – being a vocal advocate for the month before the vote may have made the difference.
Usually, preaching to the converted is a wasted effort, but in the case of equal rights there’s a lot that can be done to mobilize our allies. If that’s you – if you’re straight but support the cause of equal rights – I urge you to find creative ways to make it known. I’m not charging you with volunteering anywhere (though I’m obviously not discouraging it!) but find little ways to make your opinion known.
It can be as simple as posting relevant news items on your Facebook feed and giving your opinion on the matter, or wearing/showing support with a button or bumper sticker.
Braver individuals can engage family members in discussion on the topic – find out what your older relatives think about the LGBT community – you may be unpleasantly surprised to discover how well-meaning but ignorant your loved ones are on the issue! Update them of the reality and importance of equal rights and help dispel inaccurate myths about the queer community.
On this note, take it upon yourself to learn more about homosexuality, in history and present day. Educate yourself! Watching TV shows with homos on them can be fun, but see if you can't speak with more of an educated authority on the matters that have faced and continue to face your queer pals.
Parents: Set an example of acceptance. Oftentimes parents think they can’t broach the subject of homosexuality with their kids because it touches on the subject of sex, but it’s more an issue of romance. Think about it: children are exposed to Disney films from birth, which show many examples of heterosexual romance that don’t lead to children becoming perverted maniacs! I’m not saying have a “sex” talk with your kids, but to acknowledge, without prejudice, the existence of homosexual romance. Since there’s no Disney film where Prince Eric falls in love with Aladdin, you won’t have a movie to introduce the theme for you, but it can be as simple as including the existence of gay relationships when the topic comes up.
If you happen to be raising a gay child, I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it would be for your child to imagine that you would love them regardless, even if they’re not ready to accept any identity themselves.
Sometimes princes are queens.
I think many gay-friendly heterosexuals take for granted that equal rights will happen because it’s the right thing, inherently. I, too, believe this is true: I believe history will prove that equal rights for LGBT people is right, just, and will one day be a given – however, (and it's a big however,) there is an opportunity now for all you straight folks to impact how long it takes for that day to come. When you consider how many innocent children and adults suffer as a result of homophobia and oppression at the hands of peers and governments charged with protecting and promoting the welfare of its people and realize that every single day of being discriminated against causes needless harm and hurt, doesn’t it appeal to your sense of justice to act frequently to move this battle along to its hopeful conclusion?
Get in the habit today – start being more vocal about your advocacy for equal rights. Don’t underestimate how helpful just being visible is. Personally, every time I see a heterosexual friend speak-up in some pro-gay fashion of their own volition, I well-up with gratitude.
Don’t let the “fabulousness” of your queer friends fool you: It’s still difficult to be gay. It’s more difficult and complicated than you think you know. It must be, because I’m still unraveling the effects to this day, and I’ve spent my life on it!
When you look back on your life, make sure that you can say you were an active advocate for equal rights. Then you will know a profound, deep and deserved sense of pride.
…Oh, and since this is a music/movie blog, here’s some gay shit to enjoy:
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