19 July 2010
Together we rise (but first we have to get together)
I went to an event tonight put on by an organization dedicated to increasing the rights of LGBT folks in Colorado. My organization (well, more specifically, a branch of my organization) is a collaborative member of this effort to increase rights and awareness about rights, and I went as a representative for that group. Ironically, my membership at this town hall style meeting seemed inappropriate considering I was representing a group built for GBT men. Anyway, that's off the point. The purpose of the event was for this organization to hear about the needs of communities and to learn about the priorities of the LGBT community in my area.
There was something like 40 people present, which is a pretty incredible turnout if you've ever been to something like that. And, considering the glistening whiteness of my community, there was a relatively large number of POC and based on my perception, a wide variety of sexualities represented. I was impressed by the overall turnout and glad to see that one of our local government representatives showed up, as well. Less neat was the fellow who showed up who is running for a legislative position in the next county over.
I don't mean to be a jerk or difficult to please, but this guy really made me want to stab holes through my eardrums. I'm sure, in his mind, he was being genuine. But every word out of his mouth was projected as slimy, political mumbo jumbo that was spewed with no other intention than to grab the attention of a few extra potential votes. This dude stood up and started a story off with, "I have a friend who's gay...". As if, PERHAPS, having a friend who's gay makes you an ally. As if eating your mother's dessert means you like it. That, my friend, is not true. I have gathered that the best way to know if you're an ally is if people who identify in (insert name of oppressed group here) believe you are an ally. So, I don't know who considers me an ally and I avoid using that word for myself because I don't want to label myself that way. I do what I can to work for things that my friends of different identities have told me they want, but if I'm not apart of the community it isn't really my place to decide what needs to be done.
(I have a hard time organizing my thoughts in blog form, so thanks for hanging in there with my writing if you've read this far).
The trouble with this fellow was many-fold, but among other things was that he utilized this opportunity, a town hall meeting to share thoughts about what folks in the GLBTQQIA community want/need, to push his own personal agenda (i.e., to get elected). He talked shiz about his opponent and went on to talk about how he supports people in this community because he has a friend who's gay. On the flip side, the second elected official simply shared that he's there to listen and wants to know what he can and should be doing for this community. It's concerning to me that people like the first gentleman could potentially get elected. Granted, he's probably better than his opponent (if his opponent did indeed compare to the GLBT community to murderers), but I'd still rather not vote for him and I'm glad he's not in my area when it comes to voting.
The town hall meeting made me glad to see so many people interested, but one piece made me particularly sad. The Executive Director of the organization running the meeting noted at one point that something like 72% of Coloradans support "equal rights" for GLBT folks, and that the rest oppose equal rights. The problem, he said, is that the small percent that oppose rights do so adamantly while the majority that support equal rights say they want equality but aren't willing to fight for it. I'm frustrated that my peers can feel so nonchalant about it when it impacts everybody. I know that everybody has their issues, but it is infuriating that I know people who care immensely about the friends in the GLBT community, but won't fight for their rights. What has to happen to make that change?