Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Teachable HoMoments

I have happy tears from this gem at A Practical Wedding about the power we all have to teach young people about equality.

Unfortunately, four-year-olds are not the only folks who could use some education about these issues. We all have opportunities to educate: family-to-family, friend-to-friend, colleague-to-colleague. In social work and public health, we talk a lot about Action Steps. These are specific efforts identified to help reach a goal, and they help us move forward without getting overwhelmed by the big picture.

I'd like to invite you all to challenge yourself to think of a few ways you can have an impact on someone's perspective. Maybe it's forwarding an article to an ambivalent relative, donating to PFLAG, reaching out to legislators to encourage them to support equality, canvassing for the 2012 election (dear god, please do that). Consider using the word "partner" to refer to your significant other. Try calling out the douche behind you in line who calls his friend "gay". (I've found that "I'm gay and I find that extremely offensive" is quite effective for making them shake in their docksides. By the way, if you're uncomfortable calling yourself gay, ask yourself why.)

LGBTQ folks have been yelling about these things for years. We've gotten a lot done, but we can only get so far on our own. Please consider pushing through the awkward and doing something small. Those moments make a difference.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Non-Douchey Gay-Related Correspondence: A Primer

Sometimes, discussing politically-charged topics can be intimidating. These days, the world is so politically correct that it seems we're not allowed to say anything at all! Everyone has a right to free speech, and more traditional/conservative perspectives are being silenced by my gay agenda. I understand that, and I feel just terrible.

In an effort to save you from the extreme discomfort of being called out as as insensitive, close-minded, or homophobic, I'd like to provide some guidance on statements to avoid when talking to a gay like myself.

Scenario One
You are a professional photographer specializing in wedding photography. Your website is a gorgeous testament to your talent for capturing love--photo after photo of beautiful brides and grooms exchanging vows, signing licenses and beginning their life together. A potential client emails you to compliment your work and ask about your stance on marriage equality.

Avoid: "Thank you for your interest in Heteronormative Photography! We would love to provide you with memories that will last a lifetime. We made money off of, erm, i mean, photographed a same-sex wedding a few years ago, so that's no problem."
Avoid: "Thank you for your interest in Heteronormative Photography! We would love to provide you with memories that will last a lifetime. In terms of marriage equality...what can I say? I have several gay friends. I guess it's just a no-brainer! Anyway...=) I attached a PDF of my pricing..."
Try: "Thank you for your interest in Heteronormative Photography! We would love to provide you with memories that will last a lifetime. I am so glad that you contacted us. I am a longstanding supporter of marriage equality--love is love, and I am supportive of all committed couples having access to the same rights and protections. I recognize the importance of putting my money where my mouth is, so I'd love to photograph your wedding and use the resulting photos to make my business more inclusive and welcoming to LGBTQ couples."

Scenario Two
You are, amazingly, a presidential candidate. Your husband makes thousands of dollars a year by exploiting LGBTQ youth and selling them the lie that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy. Someone dares to ask you about this in an interview.
Avoid: "You know, these are not the things that America cares about right now. Americans want jobs and a stable economy. I'm not going to discuss those issues that are irrelevant to Americans. And by the way, I'd also like to make sure that the kids who end up dead or on the street because of my husband's malpractice and my hateful rhetoric have no access to health care or social programs."
Try: "Yeah, that's fucked up."

Scenario Three
You are a very conservative, very religious woman. One of your family members tells you that they are getting gay married.
Avoid: "From what you've said, it seems the only acceptable action on my part would be to endorse and celebrate homosexuality. That will not happen. I don't know how you can say I have the right to believe as I want, and that you don't want to be unaccepting of anyone, and then say you are unable to gloss over my decision to not attending your wedding. Also, I remember those times that you came to my church to support me even though you think the pastors are batshit crazy and offensive. I'm still not coming to your wedding though. I don't want to endorse homosexuality."
Try: "I understand that there's a difference between not accepting someone's identity and not accepting someone's hurtful statements about your identity. I understand that you have the right be who you are, and that I don't have the right to be an ass about that. Because I passed fourth grade."

I hope you find these suggestions helpful for navigating encounters with the gays. Stay tuned for the inevitable Part Two to this guide.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Please read this important post at my favorite blog, A Practical Wedding.

I'm lucky enough to work for a health system that does include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination statement, but Linds does not have that protection. Neither does my sister. Neither do thousands of other gays in this state who are not protected from employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and hate-based violence.

Privilege check.