“Why do YOU care?”

People Really Interested in Diversity Education (PRIDE), Fall 2015, South Central College

People Really Interested in Diversity Education (PRIDE), Fall 2015, South Central College

Before I get started, you need to read this LGBTQIA+ perspective on what you do for your kids, and have Kleenex.  History matters. Read it.

So many LBGTQIA+ folks have spoken out after Orlando and its aftermath, and you should listen to them way before you listen to me.  I just want to add support.

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Several years ago, a man I know (someone I was relatively close to) asked me why the LGBTQIA+ community matters so much to me. With a bit of contempt, he said, “Why do YOU care about THEM?”  The implication was, of course, “Straight people don’t need to care about those weirdos, and are you gay too?”

I’ve been thinking about his question in the aftermath of Orlrando, because I literally in the actual dictionary sense don’t understand why everyone isn’t supportive of this community. I literally cannot and do not get it. This statement may make me a prejudiced bigot, but I’m OK with being bigoted for a group of people who did nothing but be born who they are.

The short answer to his question (the one I gave at the time): BECAUSE THEY ARE AWESOME PEOPLE AND I LOVE AND APPRECIATE THEM, so I have their back. Duh. And because I strive to treat people the way I want my kid to be treated—welcomed and appreciated for who he is. The man accepted all of it and went away, but not without a little side eye.

But after Orlando, let’s get specific. That man needs to understand he’s missing out on one of the most welcoming, kind, beautiful communities out there. He needs to know why his heart should ache after murders happened in a safe space (he’d laugh at the idea that a gay club was a safe haven), why BATHROOM BILLS SHOULD NOT BE A THING IN ANY WAY, and why he should cringe when a lawmaker in my home state says “If LGBT people don’t like it here, they can move.”

So . . . my long answer?

*These kind folks can make use of my mega crap-ton of privilege—they can talk when I’m supposed to, so they get heard instead of me. That privilege also requires me to say things like “Hey! Your side-eying, contemptuous, arrogant self needs to grow up and get with the program.  These folks are trying to live their lives, just like you.  Can your bullshit.”

*Who doesn’t want to hang out with the people in that photo up there?  They’re so much fun, and so smart and interesting (and if people want to think I’m LGBTQIA+ too, that’s perfect).

*This community claims their identities (even if they don’t feel they can be open about it), and I admire and respect that in a huge way.  As a culture, we need to get better at supporting the decision to being yourself. Related to that –> we also HAVE to eliminate the narrative of “Being LGBTQIA+ is a choice.”  NO. Identity is inborn, though it can look like choice (and be complicated) if identities shift and change.

And tell me: why would people *choose* identities that get them killed??? Yeah, no.

PRIDE fam outtakes

PRIDE fam outtakes

(Seriously, aren’t they the best? Please please please don’t hurt them.)

*It really sucks to feel alone and unwelcome.

*Internalized hate is dangerous and deadly (see also, possibly: the Orlando shooter), and I don’t want to help perpetuate that shame.

*There are important stories in this community, and it’s my job to create a space where people can tell them. We need their voices desperately.

*My LGBTQIA+ friends have taught me so much, and I need to repay their kindnesses.

*I’ll say it again, really loudly: I LOVE A LOT OF LGBTQIA+ PEOPLE, because they’re strong, smart, and fantastic people, and I love this community.  Love their spirit, their refusal to be dismissed and defeated, their resistance.  Beautiful people. I love them.

*Why WOULDN’T I care?  Why don’t YOU care?

There’s the long answer.

Happy Pride month to the smart, gorgeous, kind, generous LGBTQIA+ individuals in the world, especially to my friends and family members. So glad you’re here.  Thanks a million for sharing yourselves with me. I’m here for you. You’re why I care.

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