As the end draws near of LBGT Pride month I have been thinking about this topic that is so dear to my heart. Some of my very best friends are gay and in various stages of their lives: some have been married for a while, others have been living together and can’t legally get married, some are keeping it a secret from work in fear of retribution, and some keep it even from friends and family.
A dear friend of mine didn’t come out to me until he found the love of his life. Another friend confided in me almost immediately after we met. What is the difference besides the one being a tad more private than the other? The first friend is American, the second is Dutch. Do you know that the Netherlands (my home country) was the first country to legalize gay marriage? It is okay to be Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, or Transvestite... Isn’t it a beautiful thing to love and to be loved? To be accepted. To not be scared. To be who you are!
My daughter one evening when she was young had heard from someone that being gay was wrong so we talked about what it means to be gay and she asked if we knew anyone. Her (American) Godfather who she loves and is very close to at that time had been with his (Dutch) partner for many years and their relationship was so natural and loving to her that it never even crossed her mind that that was the very thing others called wrong. That very same friend moved to the Netherlands with his partner/now husband and they both are active in the gay community for both their companies (that have LBGT benefits). Life is so much easier when you are allowed to just be happy. I don’t think my daughter was ever prouder when she was a witness at their spectacular wedding.
We have made progress in the USA, more and more states allow same sex marriage, but does anyone else find it slow-going? And it is not just the getting married, what about acceptance… What about kids that are being told that it is wrong, or they are being bullied, are confused and don’t know who they can turn to? 61% of LGBT students report they feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. (As a side note, Bucks County has The Rainbow Room where LBGT youth is welcome. It is run by Planned Parenthood)
Just last week I was Facebook messaged by a young lady friend who wanted to talk to me. She came out to me as a lesbian asking for my help. Can I help her to be accepted by the people she loves, can I help so her loved ones know they do not have to be ashamed? She’ll be okay she wants everyone to know, as long as they can accept her for who she is. Don’t you want to help her and people like her? I do. So speak up, let people know you support the LBGT community. You may be surprised who will be relieved to hear you support them.
There’s another reason this is so dear to my heart. Being part of A Woman’s Place (AWP) where we want everyone to flourish, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will be in an abusive relationship in their lifetime. 1 in 3 teens will be a victim of Teen Dating Violence before they graduate from high school. And you know what, it doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is…. for LBGT victims it could even be harder to leave, their abuser could threaten to out them, or they may not want to admit their sexual orientation (yet). The victim may be more isolated than if they were in a heterosexual relationship.
As I am writing this blog and think about all that still needs to be accomplished, a big moment happens: The “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) has been declared unconstitutional and Prop 8 is gone. I have friends crying over this, and to quote a dear friend: “Make no mistake…. this is an incredible moment for the equality of gay men and lesbians, but my husband and I, married in Massachusetts and residing in PA, have no rights as a married couple in our home state or our country. We are closer but we need national law to be enacted. And it will be done.”
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