Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Equality Starts at Home

Today I have a personal story to share with everyone. Yesterday I received a phone call from my mother. And the conversation caused me to have an "a-ha!" moment, and made me realize how much work we have to do on education and advocacy in this country for LGBT people.

Now, my parents have always been supportive of my being openly gay, and I always assumed my de-facto PFLAG parents “got it” when it came to LGBT equality issues. So last night when talking to my mom on the phone, the conversation turned somehow to the progress of LGBT people in America. It went something like this:

My Mom - “But one thing I don’t understand, Adam, is the whole gay marriage thing. I mean, why can’t gay people just live together, why do they need to get married?”

Me - “OK, Mom, I’m glad you asked. Let’s talk about this...”

So I began going through the many, many legal, financial and social ramifications of the legal contract that is marriage. And I asked the simplest question of all: “Why did you and Dad get married, then?”

In just a short conversation, she admitted, there were so many angles she’d never considered before. She conceded that marriage equality suddenly made perfect sense.

My point is this: sometimes even LGBT-friendly people out there, because of lack of education or exposure, don’t “get” why gays lack rights, or even need them.

It’s not always homophobia, I’ve learned. I’m coming across more and more straight allies who love their LGBT family members and friends - but because they aren’t personally experiencing discrimination, sometimes don’t see what it is that LGBT people are missing out on.

I have a feeling if we educate potential allies more, we’ll discover that by sharing our stories and experiences, we can open peoples’ eyes to discrimination they didn’t realize even existed. And then we will truly be making change.

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