I AM...

I am whatever YOU think I am until YOU get to KNOW me. This is true for everyone else too, of course.. so don't make assumptions about anyone or pass judgment; ask questions. You might just make a new friend.


Thursday, April 19, 2012


In our current political discourse, right-wing politicians
continue to demonize the LGBT community in sad and desperate attempts to rally
their base. While, happily, their efforts have not been as effective as in the
past, any attempt to make gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people feel
anything less than equal can lead to devastating consequences, as the ongoing
string of youth suicides so painfully highlights.

preventable loss of dignity and human life must be stopped. The question is,

While prior
efforts have focused on the issue of harassment, it is time for the LGBT
community to take the dialogue one step further. When you are a teen, simply
waiting for your next birthday can seem like an eternity. Telling our youth
that life will indeed get better, some years into the future, is not enough. We
must instead create a world in which there is no longer any shame in being gay.
We must show that each and every one of us has something of value to contribute
to this world, period.

The first
step is creating discussion with the haters around where their anti-gay beliefs
come from, and challenging those beliefs with facts. But we then need to take
that dialogue even further and examine more closely what they hope that such
convictions will ultimately achieve.

those who hold negativity toward those who are LGBT can be placed into two main
camps: those who believe that being gay is unnatural, going against nature, or
those who believe it goes against religious teaching.

With either
group, the case can be made to counter such beliefs with facts. For example,
those who believe that being gay is unnatural may be surprised to learn that
homosexual activity has been observed in
close to 1,500 species
, and that such scientific certitudes should
be spotlighted. For those who believe that homosexuality violates religious
principles, pointing to texts such as the Bible as justification, and dialogue
around translation issues, intent, and historical context, might be beneficial.

However, in
both situations, while factual evidence might change some minds, most will
still be unwilling to let go of long-held beliefs. My question to them then
becomes, "What do you hope these beliefs will achieve?"

Most have
never looked holistically at their views, nor tried to fit their beliefs into a
larger framework. They were simply told by others that being gay is less than
ideal, for whatever reason, and have not challenged that assumption.

If they truly
believe that being gay is a sin or abnormal, what then? Does that mean they
support the harassment of LGBT individuals? Do they hope to "convert"
LGBT folks to heterosexuality, which no reputable
medical or psychological association
 supports or validates,
even going so far as to consider such "conversion therapies"
potentially harmful? Do they want us to remain celibate and single, never
experiencing love and affection? Do they wish LGBT people would simply
disappear? If anything, they are creating an environment where gay youth feel
that suicide is preferable to life.

But imagine,
for a moment, that there were no LGBT people on the planet. Just what would
this world look like?

Imagine the
world without the Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo, a gay man.
Imagine the world without that famous Mona Lisa smile, or the
iconic painting of Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper, both
by Leonardo da Vinci, another man who was probably gay. Imagine the world without the music of The
 or Swan Lake, by Tchaikovsky, also gay. More recently, imagine the world without the music
of Johnny MathisJoan
Elton John, Melissa
George Michael, or the Indigo Girls,
among countless others.

Imagine the
world without the plays of Edward AlbeeTennessee
Paula Vogel, or Stephen
. Imagine how literature would look without the writings of Virginia
Truman CapoteAlice Walker,
or Augusten Burroughs. Imagine sports without such legends as Martina
Greg LouganisJohnny Weir,
or Billie Jean
. Imagine the world without the comedic brilliance of Lily Tomlin,
or Andy Warhol's groundbreaking Campbell's
Soup Cans
painting, or Roland
 smash hit movie Independence Day.
Imagine Glee without Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer.
Oh, wait -- you're right! There wouldn't even be a Glee without
gay creator Ryan Murphy.

These, of
course, are just a few of the LGBT individuals who have created lasting
impressions on our society, and, indeed, the world. (A more complete list can
be found here.) I've created aTwitter campaign using
the hashtags #rethinkgay and #imaginetheworldwithout, hoping to challenge stereotypes and
change hearts and minds. Join me, extend this conversation, and together we can
eventually reach some of the haters.

Harvey Milk
had it right, all those years ago. We need to tell our stories and make our
presence known. As he said, back in 1978, "I hope that every professional
gay will say 'enough,' come forward and tell everybody, wear a sign, let the
world know. Maybe that will help."

Tell your
stories. Live authentically. Show the world what our lives are like, and how
our presence on this Earth is not merely to be valued, but is, in fact,

Without us,
the world may still continue to turn, but it would be a far grayer and less fun


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