"I wholeheartedly support LGTB as a straight girl, and everyone who knows me knows that. However, my family has begun making subtle (and at times rude) remarks that lead me to believe that they think I am actually gay. In all honesty I don’t care what they believe, but is there some way for me to explain to my semi-homophobic uber religious family that I can support equality as a straight ally so that they can keep their comments to themselves?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
I think this is one of the most important conversations IN THE WORLD. We all have to be comfortable standing up for human equality, regardless of how we identify. It only separates us further to sit back simply because we don’t “fit” into a “community.” If my family were making racist comments, I would 100% say something and I am not a person of color. In fact, I HAVE been in that situation and though I felt a little off-base because it is not my personal experience, I still believe that we all deserve the same respect and that lack of respect makes me uncomfortable.
I think it’s amazing and wonderful and so perfect that you want to stand up for human equality. I beg you to do so without giving a reason or excuse. Simply asking your family to be respectful should be enough. It doesn’t have to be because you are gay, or you have a gay friend, or you have gay coworkers. You should NOT have to explain yourself.
If they ask you why, be real. You think all humans deserve the same respect / opportunities / rights and it makes you uncomfortable / upset when ANYone makes ANY comment that devalues ANY human.
YOU ARE JUST A GOOD PERSON, YOU KNOW!??!?!
Amen. Fighting for equality should never, ever hinge on your own, personal identity and the rights you are afforded in this very moment in history.
I think the simplest way to communicate that with your family is by saying, “Would you like to have your rights taken away from you?” When they say no, of course not, and then start to explain why their rights are different than the rights of LGBTQ people, politely stop them and explain further. Say, “Well, Aunt Lisa, I understand that right now you think those rights are different… but what if someday someone thinks your rights are different, and their argument is the exact same as yours… but instead of others being affected, it is your own rights being taken away?” Use an example of something that Aunt Lisa is — maybe she is Christian or Japanese or a woman (HINT HINT) — and maybe there is a way to run a parallel to those parts of her that might run a risk of being discriminated against (or a parallel to those parts that have been blatantly treated as a lesser in many parts of our history).
Remember when women couldn’t vote? Remember when being Japanese ran you a risk of being put into an internment camp? Remember when Christians were being burned at the stake? OKAY COOL.
Should we have to pull on personal factors to get others to want equality for all? No… we shouldn’t. However, sometimes facing the fact that when any single one of us is being treated unfairly, we then all run the risk of being treated unfairly, is the best way to get a deeper understanding for the situation you are in.
This fight isn’t about being gay or trans or bisexual or anything else. This fight is about being a human being, and fighting so that any and all human beings regardless of sexuality, gender identity, race, religion, ability, and the list goes on, are treated with the same respect and given the same rights as anyone else. Period.
Thank you for fighting with us, and for working to help those around you understand why that fight is so vital. The more people behave the way you are behaving, the closer we are to achieving equality.
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