December 13, 2008

After The Rallies, Then What?

Let me tell you how to reach a straight person on the issue of gay rights.

It isn't with a rally. I say this having protested for the first time in my life in the No to Prop 8 demonstration on November 15. The gathering of like souls who share a common goal serves to bond and empower those who assemble. A rally is a necessary beginning to bring civil injustice into public awareness. Having gathered together and embraced their common goal, those fortified people anticipate the next step.

But the next step isn't another rally, although they continue to empower and channel energy. Rallies serve the people who already agree on what change they desire. The energy rallies produce must be focused into the strength required to shift the fight into a new phase: changing the hearts and minds of those who can be moved.

I think that most of the straight population has been complacent on the issue of gay rights primarily because they think they don't know someone who is gay, and they don't understand how the issue hurts a fellow human being. Catchphrases, shiny mass-produced signs and rhyming chants are not going to positively influence most of those who aren't already in agreement. Straight people need to know the stories behind those signs, songs, and slogans.

After and between the rallies, whether you attend or not, you have the critical moment of public awareness. How do you use it? By telling your story. Not necessarily to the world, although some will take that risk. But step up and tell your story to those who already know you. Tell them what it feels like to be left behind; how it feels to struggle for rights that straight people take for granted like breathing; and what it is to be made to feel less than fully human for being different. Put a face on this issue. Come out, come out, wherever you are. This war will be fought on many fronts, but it will be won in heart-to-heart encounters by people like you.

5 comments:

Concolor said...

Wow. That's some True truth there, Birdie.

(Java said I could comment here, even though she's logged in.)

So, okay, you've outlined what looks to me like a viable strategy for spreading the news. How do I, as a straight ally, "come out" to the people who know me already? Most of them (many? all? nah, not all ... difficult to say) know how I feel about "the gay issue". Making homosexuals the butt of the joke is very common around these parts. (Egad, but we want to move away from here!) So I have plenty of opportunities to express my distaste for such "humor". Beyond that, what?

Java here, the previous bit is from Superman. I had him read this post, because Wow. Thank you for this message.

bigislandjeepguy said...

i could not agree more, birdie. i think too many people keep preaching to the choir when it is everyone ELSE they need to be reaching. let me say this: until someone is ready to come out...it is near impossible to convince them. i have been there. and you have to be ready YOURSELF to open your life up to people. that is some scary shit, especially when for some of us, our whole lives we have been taught how "wrong" gay is. since i have gotten together with the man i want to spend my life with, it has gotten easier to refer to him as my "partner" when i speak to people about even the most basic things, ie, "well, let me check with my partner to see how he likes this paint color; i want him to see this range in person before we make a decision," etc. everyday, when you are gay...if you live life "under the radar", is another coming out day to someone else that you meet. sometimes it is an easy coming out, sometimes more difficult...especially when you do not live in a major metro area where gays are so visible.

Ur-spo said...

I agree
If 'them' is a faceless abstract it is easy to deal with them, but when you know a person in that 'them' it becomes personal and conflictual.
Most people will sway because they know someone and the 'them' is not so 'them' anymore.

Faye said...

Agreed. After the publicity and passion even out for any issue, then the hard work begins--getting into your own trenches and sharing your beliefs and recommendations for resolving the issues. Friend to friend, acquaintance to acquaintance. The question you have to ask yourself is: "Do I care enough about this to be willing to bring it up with my immediate circle when they may not have any idea of where I stand on this issue?"

alto said...

Simply, nail meet head. Excellent post and so prescient. It's a factor far too overlooked.

For too many people, it's only when things become personal, they begin to matter. When it's someone you care about getting fired, put in the ICU after a beating, or actually takes their own life, the one they believe is not worth the effort, "homophobia" isn't just a theory anymore.