I don’t get political or outspoken much. I don’t really care for “sticking it to the man” and until recently, I haven’t really felt like activism or even rally-crying is my place. But after years of thinking and searching my soul, I’m finally starting to figure out my place it the world. And now it’s time to step up and take it…
We hear it all the time. “Just because I’m trans doesn’t mean it’s my responsibility to educate society about transgender life.” You can swap out trans for any number of issues – homosexuality, mental illness or even safe sex.
And in an ideal world, it wouldn’t be. But the reality is whether we like it or not, it’s time to bring a new normal to the world stage. We as adults in our community sometimes take for granted the amount of information that’s available literally at our fingertips and we expect others to be willing and able to access that information as well. And we trust that the information available is accurate and that those looking at the information know how to distinguish between accurate and inaccurate information.
The truth is, naturally, more complicated than that. The truth is whether due to denial, hatred or ignorance, the right information just isn’t getting out there. And because of our unwillingness to educate those around us, we are the ones who suffer – we and the children who come after us.
One thing that has always struck me is GLSEN’s Day of Silence. Most of us in the have probably heard about it… a peaceful protest in mid-April – a haunting request for equality, education and the end of the bullying that we all know too well. But what about the rest of the year?
This community doesn’t need any more silent supporters. How many children have killed or hurt themselves because of the silence? How many of us struggled with depression, self-harm or suicidal thoughts or attempts? How can we condemn another generation to the silence? It’s time for us and our allies to stand up and raise our voices. It’s time for us to speak out. It’s time for us to educate those around us, so they might reach out to someone else to say “it’s ok. You’re prefect just the way you are.” It’s time we stepped out of our empty closets and raised voices and awareness. We don’t need another story about a teen that died because they didn’t know they were normal. We don’t need another man or woman suffering in silence because they didn’t know what someone else might say. We don’t need another family torn apart because parents thought their child was defective.
We need a community that is open to communication. And that change must begin with us. It’s time for us to be the change we wish to see in the world. It’s time for us to reach out to the people around us, gay, straight, queer, trans, cis or something in between and open the conversation. America isn’t really that good at open, candid conversations, but we need to start somewhere. It’s time for us all to talk about our lifestyles. It’s time to tell them how we feel and show them that we are just normal people.
Of course there will be hate. There will always be hate. But if we stop fighting ignorance with ignorance and begin at the root of the problem, perhaps we’ll end up leaving this world a better place for our sons, daughters, nieces and nephews.
So take a look around and realize that ignorance exists because no one bothered to replace it with education. Ignorance exists because we allow generation after generation to hand down fears that the gays will molest your children, corner straight men in bathrooms and rape them and steal your girlfriends, rather than taking up the fight. Ignorance exists because it’s “not my responsibility” to end it. If someone struggles with math or reading in school, we give them extra help – tutors, special classes, a little family time over homework. Why, then, is it so difficult to offer that same support when they struggle with accepting one another? With accepting themselves? If it’s our responsibility as a society to make sure that no child is “left behind”, intellectually, why isn’t it equally our responsibility to make sure that those same children aren’t left behind emotionally?
We are not monsters. We are not freaks. We are brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles. We are sons, daughters, fathers and mothers. We are friends, lovers, coworkers and strangers. We aren’t here to assault your religion, convert your children, or take over the world. We’re here looking for the same love and respect that any human craves. You may not agree with my life, just as I may not agree with yours. But that doesn’t mean that my life is worth any less…or any more… than anyone else’s.
So again, I ask, when will we end the hate? How many lives are too many?
Instead of questions now, I offer support…
The Trevor Project – Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
The Trevor Project Lifeline – 1-866-488-7386. Or text the word Trevor to 1-202-304-1200. Standard text messaging rates apply. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The “It Gets Better” Project – ItGetsBetter.org is a place where young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender can see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future. It’s a place where our straight allies can visit and support their friends and family members. It’s a place where people can share their stories, take the It Gets Better Project pledge and watch videos of love and support.
Born This Way – A photo/essay project for LGBTQ adults (of all genders) to submit childhood pictures and stories (roughly ages 2 to 12), reflecting the memories and early beginnings of their innate selves. See how nurture allows what nature endows – and it’s their nature, their truth! (And personally, this blog got me through a lot of tough nights)
Suicide Prevention Line – 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Again…Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
GLSEN – At GLSEN, we want every student, in every school, to be valued and treated with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. We believe that all students deserve a safe and affirming school environment where they can learn and grow.
GSANetwork – Gay-Straight Alliance Network is a national youth leadership organization that connects school-based Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) to each other and community resources through peer support, leadership development, and training.
PFLAG – Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the nation’s largest family and ally organization. Uniting people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) with families, friends, and allies, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality and full societal affirmation of LGBTQ people through its threefold mission of support, education, and advocacy.
NOH8 – While inspired by the passage of Prop 8, the scope of the NOH8 Campaign has grown to stand against discrimination and bullying of all kinds. The message of ‘No Hate’ can be interpreted and applied broadly, and speaks to each person in their own way.
So now, the ball’s in your court. Will you reach out? Will you educate the people around you? Will you save a life?