Friday, April 2, 2010

Give a Damn About GLBT

As hard as it is to keep up with every idol’s sexual orientation, or lack thereof, the revelation about Anna Paquin being bisexual is not what surprised me in the videos for the website, promoting sexual and gender equality. Lady Gaga saying she was straight was what stunned me, though I admit my so called “gaydar” is terrible. In the advertisements in the link at the start, the equality is advocated for LGBT people who are discriminated against in the workplace, in public, even threatened with violence against them just for something that is innately part of them, like their race or their fingerprints (though admittedly some would say that both are fluid today with plastic surgery or the technology to remove fingerprints from your digits). Not to mention the persistent debate regarding the degree to which environment affects the development of sexual orientation and such in relation to how much is genetically predisposed in physiological and chemical processes. But regardless of where you stand, it seems reasonable and fair to care about people’s sexual orientation, even if it’s not to the same degree as others. No one’s asking for people to be interested in every facet of your sexual nature or praise you for being straight, gay or otherwise. But knowing that a person happens to be attracted to the same sex, opposite sex, both, or none does help with improving human relationships. If you know these things, you’re less likely to make a person uncomfortable with an advance that is undesired and likewise with people knowing that they shouldn’t make unwarranted advances on you.

Disagreement about the moral permissibility and nature vs. nurture arguments aside, the GLBT community is a minority and as I recall, protection of minorities against the majority’s dominant hegemony in culture is a particularly American ideal. So why would one insist that a certain minority doesn’t deserve consideration or fair treatment because you believe they can “change”? Seems a similar reason why slavery going away only made people demand that blacks needed to “go back where they came from.” Once you start granting protections to a minority, people’s protests go to the level of trying to eliminate the group in one form or another. The Matthew Shepard Act’s passing was a catalyst for people to justify more extreme measures, saying that they are being denied some right to protest or being forced to tolerate the existence of something their particular deity views as an “abomination,” Except there is no provision within even the Constitution to form any kind of vigilante militia or to go on some crusade because someone happens to be protected by the government from being lynched, persecuted or assaulted (physically or mentally) by people that feel strongly about such an issue. Similar to the murder of George Tiller, there is the possibility you take both an issue such as abortion and your own beliefs regarding the ethical permissibility of that issue’s continued protection so seriously that you will override the sanctity of life you hold so dear and insist that some people have lost that attribute by their own actions. It is important to care about these issues, though the degree to which you do it is central to how the issue will change. Killing or hurting others because they disagree with you or vice versa doesn’t motivate anyone to real change. It compels people to continue to act based on fears, on paranoia, on dysfunctional thinking about the world in general. So please “give a damn” about GLBT, but don’t damn these people from the start. Give peace a chance, as John Lennon said, before he got shot. I certainly hope more death isn’t necessary to make this issue more important than it is today. Until next time, Namaste and Aloha.

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