Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Next Civil Rights Movement - GLBT (and it's about time)

I predict that within a few short years all over America we will finally protect gays, lesbians, bi-sexual and transgender people from discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and eventually marriage. And, it's about time.

When I was an adolescent, gays were called "queers" and they rarely were open about their sexual orientation. I had a cousin that evereyone whispered was "queer" and people giggled. In high school, tough guys (probably with concerns about their own sexuality) bragged about "rolling the "faggots" at Liberty Memorial. By then, the late 1960's and early 1970's, the civil rights movement had begun, but it did not apply to anyone in the GLBT community. Nope, they were still weird, still scary and deserving of ridicule.

I look back at that time and wonder, what caused everyone such fear? Was it that kernel of attraction, or maybe that boulder of attraction the bully felt towered someone of the same sex? Was it the fear of ostracism by family, friends, or religious zealots? Was it the uncomfortable feeling that flirting would not get you what you wanted, that you might be rejected by someone of the opposite sex? Fear, fear of something different and unfamiliar may have driven this homophobia.

Whatever it was, people of my generation and older treated gays and lesbians despicably. They, we, were afraid. We were taught by our parents to fear something so different, or maybe not so different, maybe sometimes intriguing. It was messed up.

Then something revolutionary happened. My generation had children. Many of our children were dumbstruck by the attitudes of their parents to the gay and lesbian community. GLBT people were courageous and came out. They loved themselves and demanded to be respected. And views of society as a whole began to shift and grow.

That is not to say that gays and lesbians are fully accepted and free from discriminatory treatment. It is legal in most states to discriminate against gays and lesbians in most states, including Missouri. In fact, the ways some people treat gays and lesbians is sometimes despicably demeaning and degrading and we need our discrimination laws to included our gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender brothers and sisters. It's long past time. I am tired of rejecting potential clients who are treated so abominably while waiting for the law to catch up with decency. On occasion, I have found creative interpretations of the law by using city ordinances to fashion a viable cause or action. We should not have to be creative to protect our brothers and sisters from injustice.

Please write your legislators, both state and federal, to put a stop to this despicable disparity. It's time to stand for justice. Gandhi once stated, "First they ignore you; then they laugh at you; then they fight you; then you win.". It is time that we as a society make it unpopular to discriminate. We have been through the first three phases of Gandhi's paradigm. Now it's time ot win.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post.

    Thank you very much for this. The "agenda", if there is one, is merely equality, something we Americans have always told ourselves and thought everyone had. First women had to gain it. Then Chinese and African-Americans and other minorities. Now it's the LGBT's turn. Hopefully, that will be the last group necessary for this.