We’ve seen a lot go right for us gays in the past few weeks. We’re probably going to have our first openly gay NFL player. We finally did get our first openly gay NBA player. Texas (Texas!) had its gay marriage ban struck down.
Yep, we’re definitely headed in the right direction. But, of course, the path is not without its bumps. Every time something good happens, there are always anti-gay people out there to decry it.
Then, we fight back and call that person bigoted or homophobic.
But then, something interesting happens that always makes me think. The anti-gay person accuses us of name-calling and intolerance.
Obviously, we are allowed to be intolerant of other people’s intolerance. But the name-calling argument may have some merit.
After Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed that horrendous bill that would allow anyone to deny services to an LGBT person on the basis of “religious freedom,” Fox News host Todd Starnes tweeted, “Gov. Brewer makes Christians in her state second class citizens.”
And predictably, everyone on Twitter called him a bigot, a homophobe and well, other awful things. After everyone attacked him for the awful things he said, he predictably went on the defensive and said he was being attacked for his religious beliefs and claimed that there is a “war on Christianity.”
Now, it’s obvious that he’s wrong in everything that he says. You can’t be “second class citizens” when you are still able to get married, have kids, not get fired for being who you are and visit your loved ones in the hospital.
And there’s no “war on Christianity,” either.
But Starnes had a point, believe it or not. He was being attacked. And when people are attacked, they shut down, get defensive and don’t listen to anything the opposition has to say.
There’s definitive proof that education, discussion and learning people’s stories is what helps enlighten people about LGBT issues. Not much else changes someones mind about gay rights. I’d elaborate, but Cyd Zeigler put it best:
Senator Rob Portman was a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage. For years, he had straight people telling him to vote against marriage equality. But all it took was one gay person in his home – his son – to change his mind and convince him to risk his political career. No straight person could have ever convinced him of it. No one.
And I’ll take it one step further. Not only will straight people not convince anti-gay people to change their mind, but not even gay people can do it if they keep screaming and name-calling at the anti-gay people.
Fighting fire with fire rarely works. Calling someone a homophobe isn’t really going to help.
But telling your story and explaining why someone’s actions have oppressed you can make a big difference.
I know this all sounds like I just want everyone to sing kumbaya, but we won’t get anywhere if we keep screaming at people like Todd Starnes. It will only reinforce his belief that gay people are bad.
Yeah, it’s difficult to not want to yell at someone. Hell, I often want to punch people in the face for some of the terrible things that they say about gay people. But that won’t solve anything.
If the You Can Play project taught us anything, it’s that education can make a difference. YCP went to Columbia, Missouri to teach athletes and students at Mizzou about LGBT rights and issues. When YCP visits a locker room, they always take a gay athlete with them to tell his or her story. And look at Missouri this past year. The football team had an openly gay player in the locker room. They not only had one of the best seasons in school history, but they also respected Michael Sam and didn’t make it an issue.
So go tell your stories…even to the homophobes that you want to punch in the face.
I’ll leave you with the best recent example of someone telling their story. Here’s a drag queen from Ireland explaining that, yes, gay people are oppressed.