As lawmakers go back and forth about the Religious Freedom Act, I must admit, I’m very much disgusted by this country’s current state of affairs. The Religious Freedom Act is in direct violation of everything this country claims to stand for. It’s not OK to allow business owners to discriminate against people because of their “beliefs.” And it’s certainly not OK for people to be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation/lifestyle, etc.
As of now, the act has come to a standstill in the state of Georgia, but one Georgia florist says she refuses to serve gay couples even if the act has stalled. Here’s what she told the Huffington Post:
“I would respectfully tell them that I’m sorry, I just don’t want to do it because of my beliefs,” she said. “[Jesus] died on the cross for me, so that’s the least I can do for him.”
However, she’d be willing to serve an adulterer.
“It’s just a different kind of sin to me, and I just don’t believe in it.”
Typical response. No logic. As I talk to more and more people about civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and the like, it strikes me that a lot of people have absolutely no idea what goes on in the LGBTQ community. Most people know little to nothing about the people within the LGBTQ community, and unfortunately, many of them don’t really care to know.
I’ve noticed that when talking to my peers (especially Black people) about intersectionality, there seems to be a barrier. When comparing the struggles of the LGBTQ community to those of the Black community, people tend to freeze up, completely tune out, or become angry and almost impossible to communicate with. While in no way am I saying that “Gay is the New Black”, and in no way am I claiming to be the authority on the LGBTQ community, I AM saying that a discussion needs to be had. I find it ironic that so many Black people are willing to marginalize this certain group of people, while in the same breath, asking that THEY not be marginalized/discriminated against. That part really never ceases to amaze me.
Trust me, I know that Black people were (and continue to be ) lynched in this country. I know that my ancestors were ripped from their homeland, stripped of their culture, their dignity, their autonomy. I understand that. But I also understand that members of the LGBTQ community have similar struggles. Identical? No. Similar? Yes.
For example, do you know how many acts of violence are committed against our LGBTQ brothers and sisters? You probably don’t. Hate Crimes Against LGBT Individuals,1000s Who Died in Anti-Gay Attacks Gay Hate Crimes In 2012, the New York City Anti-Violence Project (NCVAP) reported that 73.1% of all anti-LGBTQ homicide victims in 2012 were people of color. 54% were Black/African American, 15% Latino, 12% white, and 4% Native American. As you can see, the highest numbers come from the Black community. Here’s where intersectionality comes into play once again. You simply cannot talk about one form of discrimination without taking all forms of discrimination into consideration.
What about job discrimination? Gay and Transgender People Face High Rates of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment, LGBT Applicants Less Likely To Be Called Back For Interviews With Federal Contractors, Study Shows
How about housing discrimination?
The list goes on and on…
I came across a touching hashtag on Twitter last week. I couldn’t help but look through the pictures and read the captions. The hashtag was #transdayofvisibility
— liza minelli (@kieffharing) March 31, 2015
— mark(band) (@nonbinaryremus) March 31, 2015
— sunbaby (@lonelycatmom) March 31, 2015
It was also cool to see allies (people standing in solidarity) with the movement:
— Terrell J. Starr (@Russian_Starr) March 31, 2015
— Lily Bailey (@LilyBaileyUK) March 31, 2015
Solidarity with #TransDayOfVisibility.
— #JusticeForDeriante (@SankofaBrown) March 31, 2015
Ok. So what does it mean to be transgender? I feel this one needs to be explained, because in my experience, fear comes from lack of understanding. I won’t even attempt to do the explaining though. Check out this cool Buzfeed video:
What if gay people said the things straight people said?
So here’s the deal. People need to be heard. People need to be seen. People need to be validated. People need a voice. That goes for ALL people, gay, straight or otherwise. As a human being, YOU don’t have the authority to make people feel less than human. That isn’t your job. And please please please don’t use religion as an excuse to spread your hate. It’s cancerous. We don’t have to agree, but we MUST respect each other.
And most importantly, if someone TELLS you they were born a certain way, then believe them! Who are you to tell them any different?
This takes me back to the Religious Freedom Act. It’s not OK. We are supposed to be a progressive nation. We can’t allow lawmakers to approve bills that are in clear violation of people’s civil rights. This is NOT what our country is about, and above all, that is NOT what humanity is about. We HAVE to do better. I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, and I hope you will too.