This past Saturday the board members of CABO (The CT Alliance for Business Opportunities), the Connecticut affiliate of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce came together for brainstorming, knowledge sharing and to learn best practices. The below blog constitutes a life changing moment for her and we felt compelled to share it. Please enjoy!
“Today I sat around a table with an absolutely phenomenal group of people, and something really hit me. I am a straight, white, woman. I am not a minority in any sense of the word. I will never experience discrimination in any true sense of the word, other than it being assumed I like shopping (I do), I buy cars based on their ability to get me from A to B and how pretty they are (I do), I like to cook (I do), I want to be a wife and a mother (I do), and I’m not a great driver (also correct). I am not always rational, I am emotional at times, ok, most times, and I am compassionate.
It is this quality today I find myself thinking about. Thinking about the reasons I got involved in CABO, the reasons, as a straight woman, I am a full and true ally and advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
I grew up with a religious background. One that was not open and accepting. I was taught to love the person not the action. This is a common belief or thought process among religious people with a conscience. This allows them to not think about what is “said” in the bible, and have someone else tell them how to think and it “seems” like they aren’t doing harm. I say “seems” because it causes irreparable harm.
I see this, I have seen this, from a relatively young age I have been able to put myself into a lesbians shoes and think about the feelings someone raised like I was must have dealing with who they truly are. This is not a choice, like what sweater to wear on a chilly fall morning, or what restaurant to eat at tonight, or even where to rack up debt. This is a true component of someone’s core being.
I imagine one day, having wrestled for years and years with who I am, finally having the courage to come to the one person who has always been there and supported me, my mother, and telling her something about who I truly am, and having her tell me that there is something fundamentally wrong with me. That who I am is wrong. That she will always love me, because she is my mother, but will never truly accept this part of me, because she can’t. This is not just a part of me, but who I am and how I need to live my life to be even remotely happy with myself. It floors me at the thought of that complete lack of support and the emotional response is overwhelming for me.
Today I listened to someone describe their long term partner, someone of 26 years, and get choked up thinking about their connection with that person. I have NEVER in my entire life heard a straight person, in a 26 year long relationship do that. Never. I heard someone, when asked what their passion was outside of work and of the organization we are involved in, and they said their partner. Their partner was their passion. Not their dogs, not gardening, not a TV show, their significant other.
I cannot fathom, what that feels like. I can only begin to scratch the surface of the courage that takes to make these choices to make a better life and go against everything you were raised with to be happy.
This shouldn’t even be an issue in the world today, let alone the US, and yet, somehow, people are still hanging onto the “otherness” of this community. Because it isn’t something they personally identify with they feel like its ok to lack compassion, and empathy and love.
Well, I’m sorry but that isn’t Godly or Christian, and it just plain isn’t right. If you truly read the bible and the passages that people like to use against homosexuality, and truly take the time to understand the context and the audience and read the surrounding passages, you would realize that it’s inappropriate to use them against homosexuals. Then look at the major overarching themes in the bible- per Jesus- it is LOVE. Jesus is the word and he is love. He is mercy, and compassion and empathy. (Thanks Nancy of Riverfront Church, for taking the time to talk about this) I don’t want to go all ‘religious’ here, but so many people have been burned by people using God’s word against them that they are turned off to God, and organized religion in general.
It’s a real shame, that Christians, who seem to think they are doing the right thing are going against everything Jesus taught in the bible, and then creating such a negative response that it doesn’t even give people a chance to learn.
In any case, to get off the religion topic, it just isn’t right. It isn’t right to HATE people for loving someone, which they personally, for whatever reason can’t understand. Hate is a terrible emotion in general; its hurtful to people around them, to the people it’s directed at and to you. Love, isn’t.
I cried today, just thinking of the challenges every single person in the LGBT community face, even when people of my generation choose to say that discrimination against this community doesn’t really exist. Oh no? Why do I still feel emotionally upset thinking about the reactions and the looks and the general lack of acceptance, not just tolerance, (tolerance isn’t acceptance) that members of this community are faced with every day. Tolerance isn’t acceptance, tolerance is saying what you are is fine, as long as it doesn’t affect me. Acceptance says I truly accept you, just the way you are; you are who you are and you wouldn’t be you without every piece of you.
Its people like my very own family who send ignorant statistics to me, knowing where I stand on the issue when I tell them I want to find a church that accepts the LGBT community fully. (I did, but that’s another story). Statistics that they genuinely think are fact and should be used to explain why it’s wrong to be the champion I want to be for this. I just can’t get behind this attitude that it’s ok to pass these around for propaganda when a number of them are related to these people’s lack of acceptance. i.e. 50% of suicides can be attributed to homosexuals. You considered this is related to people like you and your clear feelings on the matter? Sure you did.
I wish more people had a true moral compass that told them that the treatment these people receive is not ok, and that even if you think things are better, truly take the time to get to know someone and hear their story, ask questions, because although they are better than 10-20 years ago, even right now this is still an issue in politics and in our country and for every one of them, every day. I won’t stand by and watch this, I will, in every way possible be a true ally and advocate for the LGBT community.”