Peace, harmony, and lifelong learning are Liz's passions. She's outspoken on education and childhood and is an activist in local politics.
Who Are LGBT People?
The initials LGBT stand for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender." It seems that bringing up this topic opens a can of worms each and every time. There is no need for this to be the case. The fact is, not one of the persons who fit into these particular "boxes," ( much as I dislike labeling people), deserves the vilification they receive on an almost daily basis.
Oh, how it dismays me to see one group dismiss another as "Those People!" It is the second word that counts—we are all people! Some of us associate with and affiliate ourselves with various communities. So what? There are assorted political groups; different religions; those who do not subscribe to religion and various races. None of that changes our underlying humanity. We all still bleed red blood and share the same four blood types; we all still have feelings that can be hurt; we all will eventually die, for none of us are immortal.
The problems stem from learned attitudes. It is ironic that these attitudes of intolerance, bigotry, and yes, hatred, are taught by the very institutions claiming to teach love, tolerance and to not judge others. That's right: churches and religions.
“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”
— Albert Einstein
Religion Is Not an Excuse to Be a Bigot
What really irks me is that self-righteous folks try to use (actually twist) their religious teachings to justify their personal prejudices—in the case of Christianity, the very basis of their teaching centers around "love thy neighbor," and "judge not lest ye be judged." The haters do not practice what they preach, making them hypocrites of the first water.
The real question is, why should anyone have to come out to anyone else in the first place? It's none of anyone else's business. "Are you heterosexual?" is not a question anyone asks, and they know they should not. But oh, my goodness. . .if someone is LGBT it's suddenly announced to the world!
“It is nonsense for the Government to allow any loopholes for religious homophobia. Bigotry is bigotry whether it's dressed up in the language of faith or not.”
— Giles Fraser
Being Different Is an Ongoing Problem in Society
It is interesting and educational to realize that most of the same arguments currently used to denigrate the LGBT community were also used to explain the reasons why women should not get to vote, or why blacks should not have any rights at all.
It seems society must always have some group to pick on, or someone is unhappy. In my opinion, this behavior reflects nothing so much as an individuals' own sense of insecurity. Hatred is taught and learned, not inborn.
A group of infants and toddlers exhibit no prejudices in playing together. It is their parents who are guilty of passing along this sorry example of how to behave. . .except it is rather, an example of how not to behave!
I'd like to share a couple of quotes I came across recently, both of which deal with judgmental, intolerant people. Interestingly, these come from those who follow paganism or Witchcraft. (Though some of them might be both—I don't know and I don't care; it's none of my business.) Nonetheless, they, too, fall outside of the mainstream of opinion and beliefs, and are subject to many of the same mistreatments. Remember the infamous Salem witch trials?
"Being a Witch doesn't make me different, ignorant religious views do."
"Never judge something you don't understand."
Prejudice Comes Up in the Most Subtle of Ways
Here is a hypothetical conversation between two friends, one of whom is looking for a good mechanic.
Person A: My darn car broke down again, and I need a mechanic. The last guy I went to cheated me!
Person B: I go to Henry, he’s right downtown, and very reasonable.
Person A: Great! Thanks. I’ll give him a call right away.
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That’s how it goes if the mechanic is a heterosexual. But, if they are anyone fitting into the LGBT classification, the conversation is sometimes different:
Person A: Gee—my danged mechanic cheated me the last time, and my car has broken down again.
Person B: Well, you could take it downtown to Henry (he’s gay, but he’s an okay guy), and he’s never cheated me at all.
Person A: (Sounding incredulous) He’s gay? A gay mechanic? I thought they were all into art and interior decorating and stuff.
Person B: I know, huh! But he is a mechanic, and a good one.
Person A: Okay, well, I guess I’ll give him a try. . .I just hope he doesn't try to pull anything funny on me, you know?
Seriously? Why is the person’s sexual orientation even brought up in the second example? (Trust me—it will be!) It has no bearing whatsoever on his qualifications as a mechanic. This is a private matter, and has no business being shouted or whispered about at large.
(Incidentally, the same kind of scenario happens if the mechanic were a woman. . .only the guy would be wondering if he could hit on her. . .)
“I know I can't tell you what it's like to be gay. But I can tell you what it's not. It's not hiding behind words, Mama. Like family and decency and Christianity.”
— Armistead Maupin
People Can't Change Who They Are
You can't tell a dog to be a cat, and you'd have as much luck trying to tell an LGBT person to change their stripes. It just isn't possible. You don't have to believe me, or think that is only my personal opinion. It has been shown, time and again, in scientific studies and mapping of the brain.
These kinds of data cannot be manipulated by tricky interview questions or veiled threats about "wrong" answers. They are straight up physiology, and with that no one can argue.
- Gay brains structured like those of the opposite sex - life - 16 June 2008 - New Scientist
Brain scans have provided the most compelling evidence yet that being gay or straight is a biologically fixed trait
- BBC NEWS | Health | Scans see 'gay brain differences'
The brains of gay people look like those found in heterosexual people of the opposite sex, research suggests.
I'm not going to use that tired old cliché of "some of my best friends are gay, or lesbian,.." or whatever. It does not matter! I refuse to include such personal information in any introduction!
I will say this: my husband and I are acquainted with a good number of folks from the LGBT community, and truthfully, we have never come across more straight-up, honest, down-to-earth, and honorable people.
The folks we've met don't put on airs and pretend to be something or someone they are not. While there may well be the proverbial rotten apples, we've not found any. We've never been screwed over in a business deal, or had gossip or back-stabbing rumors spread. . .unlike our experiences with a far greater number of 'straight' acquaintances and so-called "friends."
I Will Never Understand
As a happily married heterosexual female, I cannot relate directly to what it is like to experience the discrimination and hatred suffered by the LGBT community. That is the definition of empathy: feeling what they feel because you have been there yourself.
I can, however, relate to what it feels like to be taunted and picked on by bullies—that did happen to me as a child because I did not fit in well with my peer group; I got along better with adults.
What I do feel is human outrage, and sympathy, which is knowing in your heart that something is going on that is just not right, and needs to change. Sympathy is what drives action for the homeless, for battered women, for starving children, and so on. Most have never walked in those shoes, but as humans those who are willing to help simply care because other humans are hurting. (And no, politicians serving a meal or two at a food kitchen for a photo-op don't count!)
Humankind at large must simply let go of these ridiculous and outdated prejudices for once and for all, and simply mind their own business and live their own lives, helping others when and how they can.
Proselytizing, pointing damning fingers, or making discriminatory laws are not the definition of, or way to help!
If we cannot arrive at that point, the world itself will never know peace.
How You Can Help
Wonder how you can help and support the LGQT cause? Not to worry. There's a group for that: Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG.
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”
— Maya Angelou,
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2012 Liz Elias