Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Changing Hearts and Minds

So, yesterday after a hAApy hour at Halo, I went home and received a call from my mother. The whole thing made me realize how much work we have to do on education and advocacy in this country for gay people.
Now my parents have always been supportive of my being openly gay, and I always assumed my de-facto PFLAG parents “got it” when it came to gay rights issues. So last night when talking to my mom on the phone, the conversation turned somehow to gay rights issues. It went something like this:

My Mom – “But one thing I don’t understand, Adam, is the whole gay marriage thing. I mean, why can’t gay people just live together, why do they have to get married?”

[Insert clip of me putting mom on hold, pouring myself a stiff drink.] “OK, mom, I’m glad you asked. Let’s talk about this...”

So I began going through the many, many legal, financial and social ramifications of the civil/legal contract that is marriage, the real history of marriage (No, historically marriage has not always been ‘one man, one woman’ or even about love until modern times) and the simplest question of all: “Why did you and Dad get married then?”

In a short conversation she admitted many points she’d never though of, she said, and conceded that gay marriage equality made sense suddenly. My point is this: even gay friendly people out there, because of lack of education or exposure, don’t “get” why gays lack rights, or even need them. It’s not always homophobia, I’ve learned. I’m coming across more and more straight allies who love their gay family members and friends; but because they aren’t personally experiencing discrimination, sometimes don’t see what it is that gay people are missing out on.

I have a feeling if we educate potential allies more, we’ll discover that by sharing our stories and experienced, we can open peoples’ eyes to discrimination they didn’t realize even existed.

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