Thursday, October 11, 2012

Taking a Stand - National Coming Out Day

Be Yourself
Photo by Laura Burns

October 11 is National Coming Day. I am a straight cis-female, yet I still want to come out. I want to come out on the side of the GBLT community. I want to come out on the side of equal civil rights. Clearly and plainly, I want to make my views known.

Two friends of mine have a very happy marriage. The are a great couple and appear hetro-normative. The thing that is not obvious on the surface is that JR and Jared are queer. They come out regularly online so that their queerness isn't masked by their current life, since it will forever be a part of them. Both JR and Jared have put up posts about National Coming Out Day which are linked.

Yet, if JR and Jared had made different decisions, they may be happy, but they could not be married.

Earlier this year (2012), I was devastated to hear of the loss of astronaut Dr. Sally Ride. Sally was the first American woman in space. She was dedicated to educating and inspiring young people. She was also gay.

From everything I have heard about Sally Ride, she was a very private person, so nothing in her private life was well known. Her pancreatic cancer was obscured, as was her personal relationships. That said, I can't help but feel that if she was publicly out, her message of science education for the young would have been inhibited. Many would have considered that her sexual orientation somehow changed her ability to talk about science.

Her relationship of 27 years is longer than most marriages I know, yet it is not acknowledged legally. Her partner has no right to any of her government death benefits. I have no insight into how Dr. Ride's medical care was handled, but regularly homosexual couples are blocked from making medical decisions for their partners.

These are examples of loving committed relationships by people who were created differently.

We are all different in some way or another. Some of us in small ways. Some of us in big ways. I don't know of anyone who hasn't been bullied or teased at some point. So stop here for a second and think about yourself. Think about something that makes you, you. Yet you were criticized, or bullied, or even just told to repress that aspect of yourself. How did that make you feel? Were you made to feel bad about your glasses? Going bald? That you like baseball?  Now think about how much worse it is when you are asked to supress your fundamental nature.

"There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts." - Neil Gaiman

What are we losing when we ask people to suppress themselves? What has been broken forever? What discoveries are not made? What art not created? What lives lost?

The United States is a country with a separation of religions and state, there is no reason why civil marriage should not be legal. When we separated from Britian in 1776, we declared that "all men are created equal". It is time we start acting that way.

Over the years, the United States has taken a group and not allowed them to be equal. Unfortunately, the Bible has been used to justify the sub-humanization of women, people with dark skin, and homosexuals among others. As with other aspects of the Bible, this needs to be taken in context and re-evaluated when the context changes. The context has changed. The World has changed since the Bible was written. Society has changed. Science has broadened our understanding of biology and phsyiology (yet there is still a lot to understand).  This is discussed well in the documentary "For the Bible Tells Me So", which is available on Netflix. It seeks to bring better understanding to the issue by following five families. The Trailer is here.

You can't convince me that by allowing my friends and family to join in loving committed relationships is going to ruin society. You can't convince me that allowing them to raise children in a loving home will ruin society.

I hope I can convince you that hatred of others will. Perhaps hatred is a strong word for some, but denying someone their civil rights based on factors out of their control is well down that slippery slope.