Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Gay Experience

These days, the fabulousness of the gays is hard to contain. At no other time in the history of humanity have gay rights been the focus of so much attention in the media.

You’d think this would happen sooner, given the popularity of musical theatre.

There has been so much accomplishment in terms of achieving equality for gay people around the world. Gay people can now be free of discrimination, free of prejudice in hair salons around the country. People are finally understanding the fear, the terror we face when confronted with enlarged pores.

Many gay people compare this fight for equal rights and non-discrimination to that of African-Americans. However, members of the African-American community have not taken this comparison kindly. In this very site, someone said that "the experience is not the same". I take this to mean that the discrimination that gays face is not the same as that of African-Americans primarily (as it was claimed) because gay people can "choose" not to be gay.

I don't know what it is like to be black in America.

However, these things I do know:
  • A seven year-old boy was scolded and forced to write "I will not use the word gay in school again" after he told his classmates he had two mothers because they are gay.

  • Gwen Araujo, a transgendered 17 year-old girl, was killed by two men after they discovered that Gwen was not biologically female.

  • Theron McGriff was told by an Idaho court that he cannot see his own kids unless his male lover was not present in his own house.

  • A Chicago high school kid was kicked out of his home by his own father after telling his father that he was gay. Hear his story in his own words.

  • Gay, lesbian and bisexual youth make up 20-40% of homeless youth in urban areas.

  • 22.2% of gay youth skipped school in the past month because they felt unsafe en route to or at school.

  • In 36 states, it is legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation. In 46 states, it is legal to do so based on gender identity.

  • By 2003, nearly 9,000 men and women in the Armed Forces were discharged because they were gay.

  • In 1998, when Matthew Shephard confided to two men that he was gay, they deceived him into leaving with them in their car. He was robbed, brutally beaten, tied to a fence and left for dead. He died several days later.

If it were a choice, I think all these hundreds and thousands of people would have chosen not to suffer, face hardship, lose friends and family, their jobs and their lives.

I would never presume to understand the struggles of African-Americans. Gay people are not saying that being gay is the same as being African-American (unless of course, you are gay and African-American). I don't have to learn the Snoop Doggy Dizzle to be cool. But I know that I only have admiration for their achievements.

If we compare ourselves with African-Americans, it's only because we've seen what they have achieved and that's what we want for ourselves.

Some interesting discussions going on in my LiveJournal mirror.

Also, I highly recommend you listen to this Chicago teen's story from NPR. I found it very moving and distressing at the same time. I think it is worth 5 minutes of your time (requires Real media player - download the free version).

No comments: